Year B: The Feast of Christ the King
“Yes, I am a king”. Jesus’ answer to Pilate is clear and unambiguous. Pilate, though not a king, is the representative of a powerful empire, the Roman Empire; an empire dominant for many centuries; an empire that is definitely “of this world”. However, Jesus’ kingdom is “not of this world”. It is in the world but not of it. Pilate’s position depends on military might. That is why Jesus was handed over to him. However, Jesus’ followers are “those who are on the side of truth”. Jesus’ vocation was to be a “witness to the truth”.
Because Jesus is a witness to the truth, he is also the way that leads to truth for us. In fact, he embodies truth. In contemplating Jesus, we assimilate the truth. In listening to the word of God in the Gospels, in pondering it, in reflecting on what we find there - perhaps imagining the gospel scene, we come closer to the truth.
The truth that Jesus lived out in his life is both simple and radical. “He loved us and washed away our sins by his blood”. He even forgave “those who pierced him” and crucified him on a cross. “Father, forgive them …” He invites us to give our lives for his Father’s glory; for God’s greater glory. He invites us to work for others; for the common good. This is a simple message but hardly an easy one.
Jesus demands a radical following; a going back to the roots of our faith. Unfortunately radicalisation has acquired a new and pernicious meaning in English recently: an extremism that leads to hatred. Christian radicalisation is totally different. Saint John says: “to hate your brother or sister is to be a murderer” (1 John 3: 15). Rather, Christian radicalism invites us to a “real and active” love for our brothers and sisters. The Feast of Christ the King invites us to follow Christ our leader, the Good Shepherd, the Good Samaritan; to assimilate the Truth that will lead us to Life.
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Ian Tomlinson SJ