SOLEMNITY OF CHRIST THE KING
At the end of our life’s journey, Jesus will be our King. The celebration of the Christ the King signals the end of the liturgical calendar of the Church.
The gospel this Sunday brings us to the judgment drama between Jesus and Pontius Pilate in the Passion Narrative. Pilate was the prefect of the Roman province of Judaea from 26-36 AD. The Jewish religious leaders brought Jesus to Pilate because the Sanhedrin which was the equivalent of our Supreme Court did not have the power to sentence and execute political prisoners. By bringing Jesus to Pilate, the religious leaders ensured that Jesus would be crucified through the hands of the Romans.
Pilate represented the Roman Empire who practically owned the whole world during that time. Because he was a man of supreme authority, the life of Jesus depended upon his judgment. When Pilate asked Jesus if he was the King of Jews, Jesus did not respond in the affirmative, instead Jesus explained that his Kingdom is not of this world: “If my kingdom did belong to this world, my attendants would be fighting to keep me from being handed over to the Jews. But as it is, my kingdom is not here.” So when Pilate asked Jesus if he was a king, Jesus answered “You say I am a king.” Now Pilate had spoken and had given the Roman confirmation that Jesus was indeed a king. Jesus explain further “For this reason I was born and this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice.” Because Pilate never understood a thing, in his utter ignorance he said “What is truth”. True enough Pilate did not find any political fault with Jesus and he wanted to free him. He made Jesus sit down in a stone pavement called Gabbatha, a judgment seat because in John’s thought Jesus was the real judge of the world. It was also Pilate who had the inscription INRI (Iesous Nazarenus Rex Iudaeorum) which meant as a mockery that Jesus who was from Nazareth was the king of the Jews. When the Jews saw it, they demanded that it be changed to “I am the King of the Jews”. But Pilate insisted “What I have written, I have written” which means that Rome had indeed confirmed the kingship of Jesus. John’s polyglot character of the inscription was made sure that it be understood by the languages of the Roman Empire being written in Hebrew, Latin and Greek. Jesus being raised on the cross which was his throne, was the height of paradox when he was finally exalted as the King of the Universe although in the eyes of the world he was a total failure.
Jesus’ Kingdom is not of this world so it does not have an army, courts, palaces nor boundaries. It does not have the riches and the power of an earthly kingdom because it is spiritual and eternal. When we were baptized, we shared in the kingly office of Jesus. We also assumed our new identity: as heirs of his Kingdom. Whenever we pray the Our Father, we always say “Your Kingdom come…” Every time we witness to truth, justice, love, peace and when we celebrate our inner goodness as a human person, God’s Kingdom has indeed come and Jesus reigns in our hearts…..