The Kingdom is the truth

November 21, 2021 Christ the King, Year B

The first reading today is from the Book of Daniel (2nd century BC). It foretells the coming of a mysterious “one like a son of man.” This was a title that Jesus used of himself. The Church reads this text as prophesying the universal Kingship of Christ.

The second reading is from the New Testament Book of the Apocalypse (late first century). It presents the risen Christ, who has overcome all earthly powers, even the ultimate power of death.

The gospel reading tells us of the trial of Jesus before Pilate. Jesus confronts the imperial power of Rome. Pilate is a Roman governor: he is concerned with power. In the Roman way of thinking, every advance in power was bought by a victory over an opponent. Pilate could understand Jesus if Jesus was planning to seek political power by armed force.

Pilate as a Roman governor thinks he knows how to deal with someone who seeks that kind of kingdom. He would use force. He would have that person flogged and then executed by barbarous crucifixion. He would try to annihilate even the memory of that person. When Jesus does not take this option of seeking political power by armed force, Pilate is at a loss. He cannot locate Jesus in his own scheme of things.

In Jesus’ way of understanding his mission, he has come to enable people to see the truth and to enter into the kingdom which is truth. In the Gospel of John, Pilate expressly asks Jesus, “Are you the King of the Jews?” Some understand this as a politically charged question: if Jesus was indeed claiming to be “King of the Jews” he would be intending to lead a revolt against Roman power.

However, Jesus turns the question back to Pilate: he asks Pilate where he, Pilate, stands. Although Jesus is a prisoner in the power of the Roman governor, he does not submit to him.

Pilate and not the power of Rome. Jesus indicates clearly that he is not concerned with achieving political power. Rather than speaking of power, he turns attention to his kingdom. His kingdom is not of this world.

Pilate presses his questioning: “Then you are a king?” Again, Jesus deflects the question. Pilate again asks; “Then you are a king?”

But again, Jesus turns the questioning back on Pilate. “You say I am a king.”

Then Jesus states clearly: “Yes, I am a king.” But then he explains clearly the nature of his kingship. He came into the world: “To bear witness to the truth.” He is not pursuing the kind of kingship that has to be imposed by the threat of death by crucifixion. His kingship will be freely accepted and it will be welcomed by those who are seeking the truth.

Brian Johnstone CSsR

© Majellan Media 2021

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