“So you are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. For this, I was born, and for this I have come into the world, to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears my voice.” (John 18:37)
Today is the last Sunday of this liturgical year. Today is the Sunday of all other Sundays. Today we celebrate the solemnity of all other solemnities; the solemnity of Christ, the King of the Universe. All our celebrations of Christ from His birth, through his preaching, passion, death, and resurrection culminate in today’s celebration: Christ is the King and as we hear in today’s Gospel passage, this kingship of Christ is not of this world. The meaning of this is that Christ’s kingship is not like other earthly kingship. If the kingship of Christ is not like the kingships we are used to, how then is it like? If Christ is a king, where is his kingdom located, and how does this kingdom relate with other kingdoms? These are some of the points we shall examine in this reflection.
1. Is Jesus Christ a King?
When Pilate asked Jesus if he was a king, Jesus responded by saying: “Do you say this of your own accord, or did others say it to you about me?” This response of Jesus is heavily loaded. That Christ is a King is an indisputable fact to which all our readings today testify yet this kingship is not based on public opinion but on individual faith. It is one thing to call Christ a king simply because others are saying so but a different thing to actually acknowledge Christ as “my” King and worship Him as a King truly deserves.
The sad tale of our faith is that we call Christ a king, yet we do not allow Christ to reign in our lives, in our places of work, in our dressing, in our homes, in our conversations, in our hearts. Every year, we join the procession to publicly worship Christ as our king but the moment we get home, that becomes the end of Christ’s kingship for us. Sin, evil, and the quest for material things begin to reign strongly in our lives.
Today, the question Christ is going to ask us is: “Are you singing, dancing, and clapping hands, kneeling, bowing, and jumping up and down because I am your king or because others have said so?” If it is because others have said so, then you would soon like Pilate to give the order to crucify Jesus but if you are truly convinced of Christ’s kingship, Christ would reign in your life, in your bedroom, in your smartphone, in your office/business environment, in your dealings with people, even in your most secret chambers.
2. Where is Christ’s Kingdom Located?
In our Gospel passage today, we hear Jesus say to Pilate: “My kingship is not of this world. If my kingship were of this world, my servants would fight, that I might not be handed over to the Jews.” Does this mean Christ is only the king of heaven and has no power over this earth? No. Otherwise, how then do we reconcile the statement of Daniel in our first reading who noted: “to him was given dominion and glory and kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve him…”? or with the statement in our second reading that: “every eye will see him… and all tribes of the earth will wail on account of him.”
When Christ says His Kingdom is not of this world, he was not talking about its location but its operation. Christ is the King of the Universe (heaven and earth inclusive) but the kingship of Christ does not follow worldly principles.
3. How does Christ’s Kingdom Operate?
To answer this question, let us examine the statement of Christ to Pilate: “if my kingship were of this world, my servants would fight, that I might not be handed over to the Jews.” In one stroke, Jesus summed up the essence of all worldly kingdoms while at the same time highlighting the distinguishing superiority of His Kingship. While all worldly kingdoms fight and go to war for fear of losing power, the servants of Christ do not need to fight because nothing whatsoever can threaten the Kingdom of Christ. While the working principle of worldly kingdoms is fear, the working principle of Christ’s kingdom is love.
Do you notice that earthly rulers and kings are the most fearful kind of people? They know that their own lives, as well as their very kingdom, are always at risk of perishing so they invest heavily in their personal security, using all kinds of sophisticated weapons and trained military force to defend their ever-fragile kingdoms. They are always ready to fight once threatened yet not a single earthly kingdom lasts forever. Christ did not fight with the Roman authorities to defend his power as King of the Universe, instead, he loved all men to the point of being a sacrificial lamb for our salvation. The Romans themselves were once a world power but where are they today?
If we say we belong to Christ’s kingdom, why do we engage in useless fights with people? Why do we allow hatred, bitterness, malice, and lack of forgiveness to linger in our hearts? Why do find it difficult to love others like Christ did sacrificially?
Yes, Christ is a King. His kingship does not depend on us. Christ remains a King whether or not we worship Him. His Kingdom is an everlasting one. Nothing whatsoever can threaten Christ’s power. Our celebration today is an acknowledgement of Christ’s superior power over this world and the whole universe. We profess to be part of Christ’s kingdom but our membership of this kingdom should not begin and end with our singing and dancing all over the streets today, we must allow Christ to reign as king in every aspect of our lives including our most secret places. As members of Christ’s kingdom, we must operate according to the principle of love, the willingness to sacrifice rather than to fight others knowing that we are part of a kingdom that is greater than all this world has to offer.
Let us pray: Lord Jesus, I worship you as my king forever and ever. Amen.
Bible Study: Daniel 7:13-14, Psalm 93:1-5, Revelation 1:5-8 and John 18:33-37).