Christ The King, Year B
Theme of the week: The Son of Man is the heavenly king who shares his royal inheritance with us. Courage! Proclaim his truth!
Jesus’ kingship is a theme that is evident through all the readings this week. The prophet Daniel lived in the time of the Babylonian exile. In Dan 7:1-8, Daniel describes a vision where he witnessed four beasts rising from the sea. These represented the rise of four successive empires of the Babylonian, Persian, Greek and Roman. (This vision is similar to the one Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar had in his dream earlier, in Dan 2:31-45). In the vision, the four great kingdoms are eventually superseded by a kingdom of God that is to be established by “one like a Son of Man” (verse 13 – Jerusalem Bible). This Son of Man will descend from heaven, and establish a reign that will last forever (verse 14). This Old Testament passage is the earliest reference to the term “Son of Man”, a term used to describe Jesus in the Gospels. In stark contrast to the four beasts, the Son of Man is in human form. This vision puts into sharp contrast the earthly kingships of the four beasts and heavenly kingship of the Son of Man. Jesus himself emphasised this contrast in the Gospel when he said, “My kingdom is not from this world.” (Gosepl, verse 36)
The Second Reading presents to us another contrast between earthly and heavenly kingship; demonstrating to us the extent of God’s mercy and generosity. Jesus is the heavenly king who sacrificed for our sins. And in so doing, he conferred royalty upon us, making us his kingdom (verse 6). Again, let us compare earthly kingships with Jesus’ heavenly kingship: what earthly king would share his royal inheritance with his subjects? Yet this is exactly what Jesus did.
The Gospel describes the scene where Jesus was tried by Pontius Pilate, during which Pilate jostled in and out of the praetorium several times. Outside the praetorium, the scene was emotionally charged and chaotic. Inside the praetorium, Jesus reasoned with Pilate in an atmosphere of calm. Having convinced Pilate of his innocence and assured him that he is no threat to the Roman Empire (“My kingdom is not from this world.” – verse 36), Jesus proclaimed the truth to Pilate: “for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice.” (verse 37) Pilate has to make the choice: execute Jesus to please the crowd; or release him to please his conscience. Ironically, it is Pilate who is now on trial. In the end, Pilate took the cowardly decision of sentencing Jesus to death. In the process, Pilate took the trouble to disown this decision by washing his hands, saying “I am innocent of this man’s blood.” (Mt 27:24)
Proclaiming the kingdom of God often comes at a price. Reflect upon this for a moment. Like Pilate, I will face challenges in proclaiming the truth. Often proclaiming the truth will extract a personal price of me – whether it is alienation, ridicule, criticism or other forms of persecution. What do I do? Do I have the courage to make the morally correct decision; or do I take the easy way out like Pilate and then blame others for my bad decision?
May courage and peace be with you.