Nov. 25, 2012
Christ the King
Daniel 7:13-14
Revelation 1:5-8
John 18:33b-37

When I hear this particular Gospel reading in the context of Holy Week, it strikes a different chord in my consciousness. When I hear it today, it calls to mind Jesus’ personal care for all those with whom he related.

Pilate is a pragmatist. He seems to know what is right and would be willing to do it if it would not demand any personal investment of his own. Claudia, his wife, intervenes and Pilate gets nervous.  Pilate seems irritated at having to deal with the case.

The Gospels make it clear that Pilate didn't want to give Jesus a death sentence, and tried to find ways to avoid it. When he was reminded that it was customary to free a prisoner during the festival, he thought this would be a good excuse to release Jesus. But the crowd shouted for the freedom of Barabbas instead.  At this point, Pilate became fearful of the crowd and released Barabbas instead of Jesus.

Pilate probably gave little thought to whether or not Jesus was guilty and Jesus seemed to simply let the scene play out until Pilate asked, “Are you the king of the Jews?” Anyone claiming kingship without Roman permission would have been regarded as an insurrectionist. Then, Jesus made the question personal, “Do you say this on your own or have others told you about me?” Jesus assures Pilate that he is not a political threat when he says, “My kingdom does not belong to this world.” But the question remained, “Do you say this on your own?”  Pilate had to confront himself. In this context, the question is very like Matthew 16 when Jesus asks his disciples: “Who do you say that I am?" This is the ultimate question for every believer.

This is the question each of us is asked today. Do you recite the Creed, attend Mass on Sunday, and say you are a Catholic because of someone or something other than Jesus?     
At our celebration, we gather to hear witness to the truth. Most of us came to faith through the community—by the word of another. Our religious practice was formed by that same community. That is not enough. At some time in our lives all of us have to answer these questions: Who do we say that Jesus is and is our conviction born of personal faith? The answers to those questions are the basis for our relationship to the Lord and the actions of our life.    

The kingship which we celebrate today is neither a political reality nor a benevolent dictatorship. Jesus has announced that it is the kingdom of truth. His truth reigns and we are those who proclaim it.

To serve truth is to see things in a Christian perspective, to recognize that we have been graced with the presence of God. This presence is made active and dynamic through Jesus Christ, the very word of truth. What Christ says is true. What Christ is, is true. This is the message of the Gospel. This is the message of the life of Christ. This is the message of the Church and the message of Eucharist.