The Thirty-Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Solemnity of Christ the King
25 November 2018 at St. Peter the Apostle & St. William Churches in Naples, Fl
Daniel 7, 13-14 + Psalm 93 + Revelation 1, 5-8 + John 18, 33-37
The two of them stand before us. We have no need of their conversation. We know who they are and what they have to offer. Pilate tries to diminish this one standing before him. He wants to put some limits on the power of Jesus. Pilot calls him, “King of the Jews”, a title that refers to a race rather than a nation or the people of God living in covenant. Jesus is silent because Jesus is the Truth while Pilot is the lie.
The “lie” is Pilot in a world of competition, fear, power, and force. In Pilot’s world people must make their own importance known and felt. It is a world of heredity, who you know, clothing, titles and power to manipulate and define a person’s worth. Pilot may have thought he was dealing with a religious fanatic or some revolutionary, but standing before Jesus, he meets someone who is absolutely free. Pilot isn’t free. He is trapped by what the people will say about him, and worried about what the Emperor will think of him if things get out of control. Pilot is trapped, caught up in very lie of his existence.
The truth is Jesus Christ who is free of Pilot’s world living already where the strongest have no need of power or force, where the only fear is being afraid, where the greatest is the one who serves the most, and where those who seek the truth about life will fall in love and stake their lives on the freedom he offers willing to give up everything Pilot’s world offers for the sake of this freedom and this love.
There is before us this day and set by this Gospel a choice to be made. It is a choice that defines our identity. Since that day until now this world has been filled with Pilots, and when the world that Pilot rules stands before the truth it is empty. It is violent. It is destructive. It enslaves citizens in service of the big lie that somehow happiness is found in riches, peace is found by force, and anyone’s individual rights become a permit for doing or saying anything they want. In that world there is no future, no respect, no communion, and no vision of the common good. The citizens of that world are defined by their language, skin color, sexuality, or political party. Those in control stay in control like Pilot who is threatened by the very thought of another way.
Since that day however, there is another way, another world filled with people like us whose citizenship papers are baptismal certificates that entrust with the mission to live in another realm defined by the Truth revealed to us in Jesus Christ. Today, the Feast of Christ the King reminds us that we have been called into a Kingdom, a realm that embraces those who love, who serve, who are free to live without fear of what is different or unknown, not particularly concerned about what others outside of this realm may think of them. In this Kingdom, our identity comes from a God who loves us all: a God who knows nothing of Romans or Jews, black skin or white skin, yellow or brown, gay or straight, republican or democrat. This feast says we can see through all of that because we are of God, because we share the divine life, and the same divine spirit. Like Jesus, we stand before the world of Pilot refusing to be confined, defined, or reduced to the service of power and self-interest.
If we declare that Christ is King, then we must make it clear that Christ is our King, and we are of his kingdom not of Pilot’s. In our Kingdom, it is no longer a winner-take-all survival of the fittest kind of life. It is a kingdom based upon love not power. It is a kingdom of respect, a kingdom of communion not a kingdom of individuals. There is nothing exclusive, territorial or coercive. In our Kingdom we redefine power and greatness in terms of care, kindness, and service, free to give all that are.
Our pledge of allegiance is our Creed and the prayer that Jesus taught us. If you truly belong to the Kingdom of God, stand up and say so, act up and make it so. “I believe in One God, the Father almighty…….”