34th Sunday B     –    Jesus Christ, Universal King.

This Sunday’s Gospel offers us a bird’s eye view of the scene where Jesus was brought before Pilate. One symbolised worldly power and the other represented the power of God’s Spirit; two diametrically opposed forces.  “Mine is not a kingdom of this world,” Jesus informed Pilate. Surely a piece of information that confused him!  Earthly rulers then as now used force, violence and economic exploitation to accomplish their goals. Jesus’ power is from a different source and his goals are accomplished by the Spirit of God working in the hearts and through the lives of his followers. The scene before us serves as a picture in reverse, turning on its head the common understanding of a king as an authoritarian and usually despotic ruler. Jesus operates in a whole new way, one that is consistent with his proclamation that the kingdom of God is a kingdom of justice and truth, peace and love.

Irish theologian Dermot Lane writes: “The reign of God is ultimately about re-establishing right relationships between God and humanity, between humanity and the individual, between humanity and the whole of creation” – Christ at the Centre, p. 21. That’s the big picture we need to keep in mind. Jesus reminded us in the gospels that the kingdom of God is both within us and amongst us.  For almost a thousand years the people of Israel waited for a ruler like King David, a shepherd king who would not abandon his sheep to wolves but care for them and lay down his life for them. The great prophets of the Bible envisioned a humble servant king whose reign would be marked by justice, peace and love – cf. Isaiah 11. But their waiting was marked by the coronation of one treacherous king after another. Too many of them took advantage of the throne to enhance their own wealth and power, and lord it over their subjects in the worst ways.

As Pilate watched the poor man who had been brought before him, his hands bound behind his back, he wondered what to do. Jesus was a social embarrassment whose words and actions were dangerous to public law and order. He dithered for a while but eventually handed Jesus over to be crucified. When Jesus rose from the dead he breathed on his disciples and, through baptism, on all who believe. Because of that, Christ accomplishes his mission on earth through us, his Spirit-led followers. Like his own mission, ours is meant to be marked by the self-emptying selflessness of the humble Jesus – Phil 2: 5. Our lives as his followers are not about ourselves and our accomplishments, but about the Reality that lies at the heart of life’s mystery that we call God. Christ our King is that reality and he rules through our selfless service of others and not through our domineering, intimidating, threatening or suffocating attitudes.

The Spirit of the Risen Lord enabled his disciples to see him and themselves in a new light. Sometimes they were slow to recognise Jesus, and when they did their hearts burned within them. Paul in his letters speaks over and over again of a new sense of courage and fortitude, a new enthusiasm for the message of Christ, and an overwhelming love for people that seemed to well up in him. The Spirit imbued the followers of Jesus with a new consciousness out of which they lived, a transformed awareness that seemed to turn the world into a better place, and a new sense of hope that made the inevitable trials of life meaningful. Once they tasted and saw the truth and reality of who Jesus was/is, the half-truths and promises of the old world were no longer palatable. Everything became relative to this new “King” who declared himself to be the way, the truth and the life.


Fr. QQ  – 11/17/2021






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