This Sunday is the last Sunday of the Church’s liturgical year, we celebrate the Solemnity of Christ the King. As the year draws to a close we turn our thoughts to the time when Christ will return as king. It was instituted by Pope Pius XI in 1925, and celebrates the identity of Jesus who we honour as universal ruler and shepherd.
In the reading from John’s Gospel (a part of the passion), Jesus is brought before Pilate, the powerful governor of the Roman province of Judea, who questions Jesus about the charges brought against him. Caiaphas and the high priests have charged Jesus with a political crime, one which is punishable by death but Pilate distances himself from the Jewish leaders, he is not a Jew, and he seems to want little to do with this Jewish affair.
Jesus tells Pilate that his kingdom is not of this world but is a kingdom that bears witness to the truthfulness of who people are, the goodness of relationships, and is a place where people show mercy to those in need. In his kingdom people care for each other, Jesus is king but not the kind of king we imagine or expect. Jesus speaks of bearing witness to the truth that each person created by God is good and is given the gift of human freedom and is called to love each other and to develop strong, authentic relationships. Truth is an important theme running through John’s Gospel. It is emphasized at the end of the dialogue between Pilate and Jesus today. Those who know the truth will recognize Jesus as king and be messengers of truth, standing for peace and justice for all who are oppressed. Sometimes we may struggle to recognise Jesus as King. In reflecting on today’s Gospel we might consider, what are some of the conflicts between the values of our society and the values of the kingdom of Jesus? We are invited to see with eyes of faith that we might recognise that Jesus, through his crucifixion and death, is indeed king and Saviour of all. We might ask ourselves in what ways has Jesus become ‘king’ of our own lives? Do we truly honour him with this title?
On this feast of Christ the King, we are called to examine our hearts in the light of the attitudes and actions of Jesus. Christ the servant King invites us to reach out to others and to let His healing grace fill our own hearts. Advent begins next week and is a time of preparation for Christmas, when we can become better followers of Jesus and give better service in His kingdom.