Jesus the King of Truth and Love
“I came into the world, to bear witness to the truth.”
The Solemnity of Christ the King was established in 1925. Pope Pius XI had seen the rise of secularization, atheism, and communism. The world was still trying to recover from World War I, which had devastated Europe and shattered people’s hopes for unlimited progress based solely on human reason. Besides, it was just around this time that the Russian Revolution, which had given birth to the world’s first explicitly atheist totalitarian regime: Soviet communism. Everywhere the pope looked, he saw human societies abandoning Christian values and trying to build paradise on earth through other means. The pope by instituting today’s Solemnity reminds the world that to reject Christ, either in private life or in public life, is to reject our only hope, and to accept him is to accept life eternal. He is a model leader, who inspires, guides and empowers people.
What is that makes Jesus so special? He was born in a stable while others were born in palaces. He had to flee for safety, while others grew in opulence. He came to serve, while others were served. He loved and cared for everyone and died for us that we may gain eternal life, while others instilled fear and used swords to subdue their subjects. He came down from heaven in order to take us to heaven, while others were of the earth and had no power to take us to heaven. He is the perfect human being with out sin, while others are imperfect and born with original sin.
The multiplication of the loaves had a great impact on the people, who wanted to make him the king. Jesus refused this dignity, and escaped from those who were looking for him to proclaim him as king (Jn. 6, 15). Later, he was to die with the accusation that he had wanted to be the king of the Jews and their liberator from foreign dominion (Jn. 19, 19-21). But Jesus claimed this dignity and title for himself only when there was no possibility of his being misunderstood, during a trial when even his friends had abandoned him, his enemies mocked him and the authorities condemned him to death. It was only in this moment of extreme weakness and supreme loneliness; that Jesus acknowledged, with certainty and dignity, that he was the king.
The Gospel of today (Jn. 18:33b-37) presents us with the true meaning of Christ’s kingship. The form of kingship that Jesus assumed is that of servitude and fidelity to truth. The King of the Jews is the beloved Servant of Yahweh who brought to fulfillment the Father’s saving plan to save the poor and the sinners. Indeed, Jesus is a King, but not of earthly origin. His kingdom is not of this world (Jn. 18:36), but of the spiritual order. His exercise of kingship consisted in bearing witness to the truth (Jn. 18: 37). He is the Messiah sent from heaven to reveal the truth about God’s love. Hence, the kingdom that Jesus inaugurated in his entire life of service and self-giving is a “kingdom of truth and life, a kingdom of holiness and grace, a kingdom of justice, love and peace” (Preface of the Feast of Christ the King). The Kingdom of God is at the heart of Jesus’ teaching. The phrase “Kingdom of God” occurs 122 times in the Gospels, 90 of which are on the lips of Jesus. “The Kingdom of God is a total, global, and structural transfiguration and revolution of the reality of human beings; it means the cosmos purified of all evils and full of the reality of God” says Eugene Maly a biblical scholar.
The crucifix with the inscription: “This is Jesus the King of the Jews,” tells us of his claim to be a king not of this world but the world to come. Remember when Pilate questioned him, “Are you the king of the Jews?” He replied: “Yes I am but my kingdom is not of this world therefore you have no authority over me.”
Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world; if my kingdom were of this world, my servants would fight, that I might not be handed over to the Jews; but my kingship is not from the world.” Pilate said to him, “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. Every one who is of the truth hears my voice.” (Jn. 18. 36-38
What is remarkable is that He speaks with authority. He doesn’t say he is one wise man among many, one philosopher among many, or one prophet among many. He tells us that all the nations of the world will come before him to be judged; He holds in his hands the eternal destiny of every man and woman of all time. Jesus is claiming to be the Lord and King of the entire universe, of all history, and of eternity and he will judge everyone at the end of our lives. He is the way, the truth and the life at all times.
There is another realm of existence where He reigns supreme. Neither Pilate nor any worldly powers will be able to do any harm to his authority there. His kingdom is in the hearts of people. Emperors after emperors tried in vain to dethrone him from the hearts of people. Religions, ideologies and political masters through the centuries tried and are trying even today in vain to remove Jesus from the hearts of people. Recently ISIS tried the heinous and worst kind of cruelties on Christians just because Christ is the king in their hearts. But they thought it is better to die than to reject him. So they gave their lives victoriously to become members in his kingdom. But their efforts are not going to succeed since Jesus is the supreme power of this world.
Jesus is king of the universe, because of what he is to each one of us. He is the author of our life, the beginning and the end. Jesus is close to us, he walks by our side, he lifts us up when we need help and he gave his life for us. The celebration of this feast is an impetus to put Jesus first and foremost in our lives and make him King of our hearts and minds. We make Jesus king of our minds by blocking out voices that are contrary to Jesus and filling our minds with what would please Jesus. When we make Jesus King of our minds it is much easier to make Jesus King of our actions. We make Jesus King of our actions when we have decisions to make and we choose the option that would most please Jesus.
St. Paul’s letter to the Philippians 2:9-11, has a beautiful hymn to express the sovereignty of the Lord Jesus attributed by the Heavenly Father.
“God has highly exalted him [Jesus],
and bestowed on him the name which is above every name,
That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
And every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.”