Christ the King 2021

Detail of Statue of Christ the King

In the last days of November, the world around us is getting more and more gloomy, days are getting shorter, the weather is usually foggy and rainy. And as we can see today’s liturgy has a very similar atmosphere because once again it directs our thoughts to the end of the world and also towards the end of our lives.

Today is the feast of Christ the King and also the last Sunday of the liturgical year. Next week is the beginning of Advent and we will have an Advent wreath in front of the altar with one lit candle on it and the main colour of the liturgy will be purple. Today as we can see we have white liturgical vestments because this day reminds us that Jesus Christ is the King and Lord of the universe. He is the king who, though he never had his own country, connects people of all generations, all times and all nations. Both of today’s readings are focused on Him. They present us with the same Jesus who was born in Bethlehem, who used to teach, heal the sick and do many other miracles, as Lord and King who is coming in his glory to rule over the world with power and strength. As the prophet Daniel described in one of his visions: I saw, coming on the clouds of heaven, one like a son of man. On him was conferred sovereignty, glory and kingship, and men of all peoples, nations and languages became his servants.

Today’s Gospel passage shows us a completely different picture and scene. We have heard the dialogue between Jesus and Pilate that took place shortly before the Jewish Passover and also before the death and resurrection of Jesus. As we remember from the Triduum, but mostly from the passion which we read and ponder on Good Friday, Pilate judged Jesus and asked him one very simple question: Are you really the king of the Jews? Then Jesus admitted saying: Yes, I am a king. I was born for this, I came into the world for this: to bear witness to the truth, and all who are on the side of truth listen to my voice. As you can imagine, these are very important words of Jesus, and perhaps the most important passage in this very short conversation with Pilate, so let us pause and reflect on them for a moment. Jesus admitted without any hesitation and with great conviction that he was a king. But His power is completely different from the powers of so many rulers and kings that we have heard about or learned from history. Jesus is a quiet and humble king, a king who was rejected, humiliated and ridiculed by many people before he died. Yes indeed, He is a king, but His kingdom is not of this world.

As you know each of us is subject to certain authorities, no matter whether we like it or not: in the country, in the church, at work and in the family, there is some kind of power over us. In Jesus’ time, it was exactly the same as it is today. He was subject to the secular power that was exercised by Pilate and Herod, but He was also subject to religious authority and, as we know, he was rejected and sentenced to death by both of them. Why? Because he preached and taught openly that the supreme authority is God himself and his law is above any other law, and no one else but God can take the first place in both: political, social and our personal lives as well.

Today, we live in a very strange world where many people think that each of us can have our own truth, that the truth is not something objective. As we can see currently many people have their own truth and wisdom about the pandemic, vaccines, masks and many other things. Sometimes we can feel lost and confused because we don’t know where to go to for wisdom, we don’t know for certain who is right and who is not, who is telling the truth and who is lying. Very often we can hear and experience lies from others. We are lied to by the media, by the Internet, by politicians but we also lie to each other in our daily lives. Sometimes we can hear from our friends or colleges that living in the modern world it is not worth being truthful, sincere and honest especially if we have high aspirations, if we want a career or to achieve even very small successes in our life. Maybe sometimes we ourselves think in a similar way that it is impossible to live only the truth and only tell the truth and to defend the truth.

Perhaps today on this great feast of Christ the King when we listen to and ponder the Gospel passage about Jesus being judged by Pilate it is worth remembering that one very short but significant sentence that Jesus said to his judge: I was born and came into the world: to bear witness to the truth, and all who are on the side of the truth listen to my voice. Let us do our best to became faithful apostles of the truth wherever we are and whatever we do as: spouses, parents, teachers, priests, politicians and so on, because only in this way can we listen to his voice and we can become faithful followers of our Lord and King.

Fr Gregory