Sunday Sermon for November 21, 2021, the Solemnity of Christ the King, Year B
Readings: Dan 7:13-14; Rev 1:5-8; Jn 18:33b-37
In the Gospel reading today Pilate questions Jesus and asks our Lord if He is a King. Jesus answers: “For this I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth.” One might wonder what this has to do with being a king or how this answers Pilate’s question. In truth, it is at the very heart of our Lord’s Kingship.
Jesus is God from all eternity, but it is interesting to note in the first reading that dominion, glory, and kingship are given by God, the Ancient One, to one like a Son of Man. We immediately recognize this term, Son of Man, as the way Jesus frequently refers to Himself. Brant Pitre, in The Case for Jesus, shows that this title is taken from this passage from the Prophet Daniel. Clearly, it is a reference to the humanity of our Lord. This humanity was assumed by the Son of God in order that He could die for us and rise from the dead. He has taken our humanity with Him into Heaven where the vision of Daniel is fulfilled and one like a Son of Man receives His Kingship.
It is not merely the fact of being born into this world that makes our Lord the King, it is the fact that He died and rose from the dead that makes Him our King, indeed, the King of the Universe. When our Lord told Pilate He came to testify to the Truth, it is to demonstrate the love of God, Who is Truth, to us. While our Lord spoke to us about God’s love, as had the Prophets before Him, the “proof,” testimony, or demonstration of that love was on the Cross.
We see this also in the second reading where we are told that, first, Jesus is the faithful witness. He testified faithfully to the Truth by laying down His life. Second, we are told He is the firstborn from the dead. This is evidence of His truthful testimony. Third, as the firstborn from the dead, we are told He is the ruler of the kings of the earth. It is in His death and resurrection that His Kingship is established. In case we missed the point, St. John repeats it in a way that cannot be overlooked: “every eye will see him, even those who pierced him.”
It is interesting that when everyone sees Him, He is coming on a cloud. In essence, the vision of Daniel, which we see in the first reading, takes place in the clouds. Jesus was pronounced a King in mockery when Pilate wrote the charge against Him and nailed it to the Cross above His head. He was crowned with thorns by the soldiers who mocked Him. One could say His glory was kept hidden at that point, but as we see in the first reading, the glory was not given until the Ascension. As God, our Lord was endowed with all glory, but as the Son of Man, that glory was given by the Father after the Truth had been testified to and demonstrated on the Cross.
This is why our Lord told Pilate that His Kingdom was not of this world. He is not a King merely of a country or even of our whole world, He is King of the entire universe. This means His Kingdom is present now on earth, but it is far greater than anything of earth. His Kingdom, He teaches us in several parables, is within us, within the hearts and souls of those who believe in Him and receive His love. St. John simply says He “has made us into a kingdom.”
This means that we are not merely subjects of the King, which we are, but we are the Kingdom. As such, we are certainly to live our lives as loyal subjects of our King who will serve Him and be willing to die for Him and for His cause. The cause of our Lord is love and truth. Like Him, we are to testify to this truth.
However, as wonderful as this is, the reality is even greater. Jesus has established a Kingdom of love and truth and we are that Kingdom; it is a Kingdom within us. We are to live the truth in love. Since we will find freedom only in the truth and fulfillment only in love, conformity to the Kingship of Christ is what is the best for us. It does not violate us in any way, but brings about the complete fulfillment of our persons. Jesus is our King Who reigns within our hearts. If you strive to unite yourself to Him in your heart, He will conform you to Himself and you will live to testify to the Truth!
Fr. Altier’s column appears regularly in The Wanderer, a national Catholic weekly published in St. Paul, Minn. For information about subscribing to The Wanderer, please visit www.thewandererpress.com.