Christ the King

Reading 1 Dn 7:13-14

Responsorial Psalm Ps 93:1, 1-2, 5

Reading 2 Rv 1:5-8

Gospel Jn 18:33b-37

Today’s feast is quite unique. We proclaim Christ as our King. Most of the kings we read about in history are not ideal leaders. Majority of them are even tyrants. As the British statesman, Lord Acton puts it, “Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.”

Today’s only kings are ceremonial figures such as the king of England or the king of Sweden. Monarchy and kingdoms ruled by kings with absolute power as a political system are a thing of the past.

However, we continue to cherish the notion of king itself, purified of its political meaning of absolute power. Today, we speak of kings and queens in the context of beauty pageant and fiestas, or to signify excellence in beauty or quality of certain products. It is as if we
could not give up the idea that somehow, when someone has reached a certain level of excellence, he is considered a king. In other words, we have transposed the notion of royalty from politics to economics, finance, entertainment, fashion, sports, etc. In all these areas of life, we give the title king spontaneously to a person who is supreme, or highly successful in some field or to something supreme in its class.

The reason for the obstinate use of the term “king,” when there are no more kings around, is probably that deep inside our hearts, we are still searching for a real king – that is, for someone, who would finally deserve to be our king, because precisely he would be “supreme in his class,” – a real role model. We yearn for someone we could trust absolutely. We long for a king, who would wield absolute power without ever abusing it. In other words, we dream of a man who would be utterly trustworthy, who would be utterly loving, wise, understanding, and good.

Today’s Gospel reading shows forth such a man. He is Jesus of Nazareth. He fulfills all the conditions of an ideal king.

First of all, he is king by birth and origin, being the very Son of God.

Secondly, he can never be dethroned or impeached, since he now reigns at the right hand of God forever.

Thirdly, his power can never be tyrannical, because it is not imposed; it is merely proposed, not imposed to anyone who wants to accept it freely.

Fourthly, his power is based only on self-sacrificial love.

Consequently, this king has no armed forces, no political party, no propaganda machine, no Department of Dirty Tricks, no police, no judiciary, and no prison. His only weapon, if we may call it such, is truth – that is, the revelation of what God is, a loving Father for all of mankind. As Jesus himself says, “The reason I was born, the reason why I came into the world, is to testify to the truth.” And because of this, he can only appeal to those who are interested in the truth – those, who have committed their lives to honesty in all its forms, to righteousness, to fidelity. That is why Jesus says, “Anyone committed to the truth hears my voice.”

When Jesus was saying these words, he was standing in judgment before Pontius Pilate, looking in Pilate’s eyes, appealing for him to choose the truth. Pilate did not. Instead of listening to the voice of his conscience, the voice of truth, he chose to silence Jesus and his
conscience by condemning Jesus to death. But Jesus rose from the dead and now speaks to each one of us. And each one of us must decide for himself or herself whether or not Jesus is his or her king.

Now, that is a crucial decision, and a difficult one. For Jesus warns us, “My kingdom is not of this world.” Naturally, Jesus wants to reign in this world, that is, in every area of life (business,
politics, social affairs, education, entertainment, sports, etc.). But he wants to reign through our free acceptance of his values, not through the means of the world (money, power, fame, violence, hatred, lust, and oppression). To choose him as my king means that we give up making ourselves the center of things and that, instead, we make him the center of things. Do I want him to be my king day after day, at work, in my family, at school, in my recreational activities, in my
business? Today Jesus is looking straight into my eyes and asking me, “Do you want me to be your king?” What shall I answer him?

Each one of us is in the process of deciding whether we’ll accept God’s love or reject it. Each one of us is in the process of deciding whether we’ll live happily with God forever and ever. The choice is yours. How will your story end?