First Reading: Dan 7:13-14
Psalm: Ps 93:1, 1-2, 5
Second Reading: Rev 1:5-8
Gospel Reading: John 18:33b-37
Today we celebrate the Solemnity of Christ the King, the last Sunday of the liturgical year. Today, we conclude, "Year B" in the Lectionary cycle and move to "Year C" as we enter the liturgical season of Advent.
There's something about royalty that fasinates us. Princess Diana and Prince Charles repeatedly riveted the world's attention. In the United States we watch with interest the doings of Queen Elizabeth, even though our founding ethos is grounded in overthrowing monarchical rule. It may be that the lives of kings and queens represent a fairy-tale-like imagining of the good life that we just can't help dreaming about. For peasants in biblical times, the notion of a benevolent, kindly king who has the good of the people at heart, and who would hear their cries for justice and act upon them, may have held just as much attraction. Whe one's life is a constant struggle, to believe in a powerful king who could, with a penstroke, or a wave of his hand, make everything go well for the little ones fuels hope and gives a reason to keep plodding on.
It is not surprising, then, that Christians would think of Jesus as such a king, or of God in royal terms. Today's feast has a double edge to it, as is brought out in the readings. Jesus is "king" but in a most anti-imperial way. In the gospel we see Jesus on trial before Pilate, who is the extension of the imperial arm in Palestine.
Unlike the Synoptic Gospels, in John's Gospel Jesus does not remain silent before the Roman governor. Rather, Jesus seems to be the one in power, as though he were conducting the trial of Pilate. Throughout their exhanges, Jesus does not directly answer Pilate's questions. Ironically, the latter ultimately condemns himself by his own responses to Jesus. Pilate takes on a mocking tone as he jibes at Jesus about being a king: what kind of king is handed over bu his own people and doesn't have an army to defend himself? Pilate also ridicules any nationalistic hopes of the Jewish people for self-rule. Pilate is fixated on forcing Jesus to admit his claims to being a "king" so that he has grounded on which to eliminate this supposed rival with pretensions to his own throne. Jesus will not give him that satisfaction and simply points out that it is Pilate who is using that kind of language, not Jesus. Jesu speaks out of his mission not in terms of a conquering king but as one who testifies to the truth. All it takes to belong to this "kingdom" where truth reigns is to listen to his voice.
Praying with Scripture:
1. How does the image of Christ the King comfort you?
2. How does the image of Christ the King challenge you?
3. How do you emulate Jesus' power in your treatment of others?