Dan 7:13-14; Rev 1:5-8; John 18:33-37
I do not know who said these words but I got these words from the animated movie Lion King that says: “Being brave doesn’t mean you’re looking for trouble.”
Anyway, year after year we are celebrating the Feast of Christ the King which happens to be the patron saint of our diocese, the Diocese of Marbel. This Sunday is also the last Sunday in the liturgical year of the church. Although, traditionally, we open the New Year on January 1 but in the Church, a new year begins with the First Sunday of Advent.
The gospel that we use for today’s feast is about Jesus being prosecuted by Pontius Pilate on the accusation filed against Him by the leaders of the Jewish people. And there is no other government official in history as well as in legend more famous than Pontius Pilate, the Roman governor of Judea before whom Jesus is brought for judgment. The Lord is being judged not by God’s standards but by the legal standards of human beings.
In today’s gospel account by St. John, the encounter between Jesus and Pilate is highly dramatic and full of ironies. It is Jesus who is on trial but it is Pilate who is presented as passive. Another one, Jesus tells Pilate that He is king but that His kingdom is not “of this world.” His kingdom is not like the Roman Empire of which Pilate is an official. Jesus seems to be in control as he confronts Pilate and challenges him.
But on the other hand, other evangelists presented Pilate with different images. St. Mark presents Pilate as an impartial judge, with no special interest in Jesus. But this does not absolve him from the death of Jesus. St. Matthew depicts Pilate as washing his hands before the crowd and proclaiming his innocence before them and presents Pilate as vacillating figure while Jesus’ death is blamed on the Jewish people. In the gospel of St. Luke, we are presented with another judge by the name of Herod Antipas, to whom Pilate sends Jesus for judgment. But when Jesus is sent back to him, Pilate turns Jesus over to the crowd, which is a very dangerous one, despite his insistence that Jesus is innocent. It was now the people who judge Jesus.
Is Jesus really a king? If so, what is his kingdom all about? And what is its significance for us? In our stereotyped thinking about a “king” that he is a person robed in royal splendor, surrounded by a host of military officers and advisers, courtiers and servants like what we see in movies.
Christ did not deny that He is a king. But he is not the kind of king Pilate is thinking whose followers and soldiers would fight for him or whose domain is limited to one nation. In other words, he is not the king who would destroy the sinners and the lawless; a king of efficiency and results; a king who solve our problems in magical means; a king whose name is to be invoked by powerful earthly leaders to sow tyranny among the weak, nor for the weak to be consumed by anger to act with terror themselves; an inspiration for the rich to become richer at the expense of exploiting the poor nor for the poor to be poorer as persons by being exploiters themselves. In short He is not a God who would cater to the whims of humans. That is why people in the Old Testament as well as the people of today often complain to God” “Why don’t You be God as You are supposed to be?”
Bishop Villegas in his book entitled Jesus In My Heart said that Jesus is king of hearts in every Christian. He elaborated it by way of comparing it with a deck of cards which carries several images of kings. The first image is the king of clubs. A club is an extension of a violent hand. A club is an extension of a hostile man. Christ cannot be king of clubs because Jesus is not here to sow violence. Jesus is not here to sow hostility. Jesus is here as a king of peace. Jesus is here, gentle and humble of heart, not to sow enmity among us. Jesus is here so that all may be brothers and sisters to one another.
Bishop Villegas continued that Jesus could not be king of spades. A spade is used to throw dirt. Jesus is not here to make our lives dirty. Jesus is here to cleanse us from everything that defiles us. Jesus is not the king of spades because Jesus is not in the grave. Jesus is risen from the dead. Jesus is not king of spades because the business of Jesus is not to make other people dirty, to make people look at the grave dug by spades. The business of Jesus is to give hope and purity to us.
Jesus cannot be king of diamonds for he came to bless our poverty. Jesus came to bless our pains and our aches. Jesus is not here to make our lives easier and more comfortable. Jesus is here to give meaning and purpose to our crosses and pains and trials.
But Jesus can only be king of hearts. This is the kind of king that Jesus is. He is the king of the universe because he is the king of hearts.
For us Christians, let us stop our gossiping, intrigues, destruction of one another, our intention to take revenge and others. Let us not be Christians of spades, clubs or diamonds; let us be Christians of hearts. So let us make a loyalty check up with our hearts and see if Jesus is there.
See Today’s Readings: Cycle B