CHRIST THE KING – C
In the liturgical calendar of the Church, there are 34 Sundays in the ordinary time and the last Sunday which is today is the Solemnity of Christ the King.
Although our gospel today is taken from St. Luke, we might as well consider some of the accounts in the others gospels to give us a bigger perspective on the concept of the kingship of Jesus. In our reflections, let us consider the inscription above the head of Jesus which was normally the charge or the crime of the criminal being crucified. I think most of us are familiar with it which is INRI. They are actually Greek words for Iesous Nazarenus Rex Iedaeorum which is translated as Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews. In the gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke, the inscription reads “ This is Jesus, the King of the Jews”. So the NRI that we know of is actually that of St. John’s account which gives us a more theological understanding.
According to St. John, it was Pilate who wrote the inscription and we need to understand this. Remember that it was the Jews who brought Jesus to Pilate. When Pilate asked Jesus: “Are you the King of the Jews?” Jesus replied “Do you ask this on your own, or others have told you about me?.. My kingdom is not from this world… Pilate asked him “So you are a king?” Jesus answered “You say that I am a king. For this I was born, and for this I came to this world, to testify to the truth…” During the trial, Pilate believed that Jesus was innocent and tried everything to release him and yet the chief priests and the Jews cried out “If you release him, you are no friend of Caesar. Everyone who claims to be a king sets himself against the emperor.” When Pilate heard this, he said to the Jews “Here is your King”. When the chief priests asked that it should be changed to “This man said, I am King of the Jews”, Pilate answered “What I have written, I have written”. What is so important about this account? Remember that Pilate represented Rome and when Rome has spoken, that was it! It was only St. John who made mention that the inscription was written in the three major languages during that time: Hebrew, Latin and Greek. This means that the truth on the kingship of Jesus is not limited only to the Jews but to the whole world as well. Jesus’ kingship is universal.
The inclusion of the words “Jesus of Nazareth” in the inscription was also meant to be a mockery by Pilate? The king of the Jews is from Nazareth, it’s baloney and absurd. But that’s the reality. The Jews had been waiting for a king to save them. Mighty and strong. And here, we see Jesus as depicted by St. Luke mocked and jeered upon “He saved others, let him save himself if he is the Messiah”. If you are King of the Jews, save yourself.” Here is the King who would not save himself because he was not thinking of himself. In fact, the first one he saved from the cross was a fellow criminal “Amen I say to you, today you will be with me in paradise.”
What is the kingship of Jesus to us at present? The world is watching on the monarchy of England. Will Prince Charles be a king? Will Camilla be a queen? People around the world are excited over the engagement of Prince William and Kate. Remember that the kingship of Jesus is not of this world as he proclaimed before Pilate. We do not consider ourselves as subjects of Jesus. When we were baptized, we were initiated to participate in the three offices of Jesus being priest, prophet and king. And that’s who we are. We could even say, in a spiritual sense, there is a royal blood that is running in our veins. The second reading from the Letter of Paul to the Colossians reminds us of this: Jesus is our head, the firstborn from the dead. And we are all his members. We belong to the Kingdom of God.
As we end the liturgical calendar this Sunday, the Church reminds us that Jesus at the end of time will reign. I f we want to be part of his kingship, we just have to be faithful to him.