March 20, 2023

Nov. 22 was a significant day in Sagada, Mountain Province for many reasons.
On this day, we had the Christ the King celebration, which was celebrated well with songs glorifying the King; with solemn processions that symbolized a pilgrim church; and above all, with a Holy Mass in the different barangays that continue to animate the people. The appreciation of the Christ the King procession was positive, to think that the Roman Catholic church is a minority in Sagada.
Four Basic Ecclesial Communities (BEC), namely Our Lady of Lourdes at Barangay Aguid, St. Joseph BEC at Barangay Kilong; Our Lady of Mount Carmel at Nangonogan, Poblacion; and Divine Mercy BEC at Sitio Baang, Kilong hosted the event. I saw spiritual thirst in every community when we sang the “Hail Redeemer King Divine” while proceeding to the church. It was a thirst for the experience of the Divine and thirst for such sacred tradition. It was a thirst for God.
We punctuated the procession with a blessing of the community. Flaglets and white linens were used during the procession leading to the church to indicate the Blessed Sacrament leading the people.
When we had the procession at Sitio Baang, I was absorbed by the Divine mystery. I did not mind the bumpy pathway, while looking up and down the mountains with the cool breeze touching my face while enshrining the Blessed Sacrament in my grip. I was overcome by the presence of God in the Blessed Sacrament and the stunning nature.
The line “Viva Cristo Rey” was not familiar to the people. It needed explanations and the people were happy to know its meaning.
The King, His Kingship, and His Kingdom were the meat of the homilies.
The procession in the different barangays, with the Blessed Sacrament leading the people, was also an opportune time to give quality catechism about the Blessed Sacrament, the Solemn Procession, and the Liturgical Year. The people found meaning in the procession with the Blessed Sacrament.
Who is the king? In olden times, the king is the authority who commands, rules, judges, and imposes penalty while being served by the servants.
Kingship is the state of being a king or an authority derived usually from right of birth. Kingship can mean the tenure or term of a king in a particular territory. Kingdom is the territory ruled by a king or queen.
When Jesus was born there were kings who wanted to see Him and to pay their respects, but there was also a king who was threatened and plotted to kill Him.
The people who used to see a king as a ruler expected even a mightier king who can defeat all other kingdoms. They expected a warrior king who can kill all the enemies of the kingdom.
When Jesus came, He was not robed in kingly garments. He had no army and a strong horse to ride on. He only had an ox. He did not stay in the palace but stayed with the people and immersed with them. He served the people and even washed the feet of His apostles. It was the biggest insult in the kingdom when the expected king was crowned with thorns and died on a cross, a symbol of shame and foolishness. Jesus drastically changed the concept of a king to servant-leadership.
It is a big challenge for government officials to ponder on their service. Politicians did not run for office for their family and for their own benefit. That is why they are called public servants – to serve the public and not solely their own family and themselves.
Public office therefore means public service. It is an authority that governs and serves not themselves but the public. Public office and public service is for public interest and for the common good. Public office expires, but public service will not.
Government officials and church leaders must work together because their services are for the public. Priests are not ordained for themselves or for their families but for the communities. If church leaders and government officials will work together for justice and peace then prayer, “Your kingdom come”, is granted and truly, “Viva Cristo Rey.”
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