Can Christ’s Kingdom on earth grow in Malaysia?

The end of the liturgical year marked by Christ the King is upon us and ushers in the new liturgical year with Advent next week.

Nov 24, 2023

Reflecting on our Sunday Readings with Fr Alexuchelvam Mariasoosai

Christ the King (A)
Readings: Ezekiel 34:11-12, 15-17
1 Corinthian 15:20-26, 28
Gospel: Matthew 25:31-46

The end of the liturgical year marked by Christ the King is upon us and ushers in the new liturgical year with Advent next week. Catholics celebrate Christ as King reigning over the whole of creation and of each person. In 1925, Pope Pius XI instituted the Feast of Christ the King in his encyclical letter Quas Primas to counter the growing threat of secularism and nationalism that eventually led to great wars and opposition even to the Church. This feast marks each man’s true desire for that utopian society of justice, peace and joy as promised by Christ when he comes again to establish his kingdom forever. The world with its current turmoil of more wars, pandemics, climate changes, economic crises and the rise of new and old politics only serves to stir up greater hope of the kingdom of Christ to reign sooner than later as prayed in the Our Father (your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven).

Malaysia with its history of struggles for unity among its diverse citizens is sadly mirrored in the Church as well. The subtle tension caused by the differences in race, culture, language and tribe as well as in asserting one’s own identity and rights as an individual or group had been a part of the unspoken journey of the faithful in the churches in Malaysia. The social, economic, political and religious influences in the country can and does endanger the Catholic faith that had been passed down from the apostles especially in the aspect of unity; to be one Malaysian Church in all its diversity.

The struggle for self-assertion and power within the churches in Malaysia by individuals and groups may seem normal or even trivial for some since there is no outright violence or riots or schism but the universal mission of the church in Malaysia becomes blunted and ineffective. This coupled with the shrinking of baptisms, lower vocations to the priesthood and an increase in mixed marriages, the lower birth rates among the non-bumiputras, the increase of deaths in an aging nation, the brain drain with emigration of young Catholics for education and work overseas, the lack of resources available and the need for sharing it among the Catholics, shows that the Malaysian church is struggling.

The question then to be asked is whether the Catholic Church in Malaysia survive in the coming years? Can the kingdom of Christ on earth grow in Malaysia in the near future?

On the same feast day of Christ the King, all across the world, most dioceses are celebrating the local or particular world youth day, including Malaysia. This celebration brings Catholic youth together and is greatly significant for the challenge of unity especially in the context of Malaysia which has a population that is rich and diverse in culture, race, language, tribes and socio-economic strata. The event itself is to be a simple but immediate exposure to every young individual on the experience of the Catholic Church as more than just one’s own backyard, or parish, or race, or self interest groups but a nucleus of the kingdom of Christ here on earth. A privilege few experienced the universal church in its enormity and splendour when they went to Portugal recently to be with the Pope.

A similar experience of the Church in its diversity at the local Church is being made possible with the coming together of the young people of the diocese and her Bishop. Him being the shepherd of his flock and a sign of Christ to his sheep that recognises his voice. The differences of each young people no longer takes prominence since all are coming together to be with Christ and his Bishop, to know and celebrate each other albeit for a short moment and creating the space for Christ to meet his Bride especially in her liturgical celebrations. It is in these moments then, that the feast of Christ the King makes the most sense, for here, the young people united and forged together by the Holy Spirit in the Eucharist, are joined together as one chosen race, one royal priesthood, one holy nation, one people for God’s own possession with the explicit mission of proclaiming everywhere his mighty works.

Christ is alive, exclaimed Pope Francis in Christus Vivit. Could this local world youth day then be a new stimulus of faith, hope and charity for the young people? We can pray and hope. May they hear the voice of the Shepherd King and heed his commands.

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