Solemnity of Christ The King
Thoughst for your consideration: by Jim O’shea, CP
In John’s gospel offered for the feast of Christ the King we are permitted to listen to the face off between two power players – Pilate and Jesus – both who possess tremendous power in their respective kingdoms. If Jesus were any other type of power player, at this point a deal would be made, a “win-win” and execution would be avoided. Jesus was obviously unable to win a military battle, and so Pilate would have pardoned this powerful agitator and, after receiving Jesus’ grateful loyalty, added the significant influence of Jesus and his followers to his already potent reign. But this is not an ordinary power player and Jesus continues to baffle the logic of the world. He demands that power tell the truth, even at the cost of security and strength. It was a seemingly reckless position – one that ultimately cost his life. Pilate had no other choice – if he could not co-opt or control the power of Jesus and his gospel of truth, he had to destroy it. There is no other satisfactory solution for the kingdoms of this world.
Most of us would likely have made a deal with Pilate and continued uneasy residence in his kingdom. We are more comfortable with Pilate and, besides, we all like to avoid executions, particularly our own. But Jesus continues to fascinate by offering an alternative kingdom. This is a kingdom without borders and citizenship comes not by government approval but by the revolutionary willingness to tell the truth – the truth that we are hopeless sinners and that sin hopelessly continues to create and sustain structures that mar the Creator’s image on creation. The only privileges to this citizenry are eternal life and imminent persecution. It’s no wonder the kingdom of Jesus has no waiting list!
Power as Pilate wielded continues to attract us, yet Jesus, also, continues to fascinate us. The kingdom Jesus proposes calls the world’s institutions to penance – institutions that frequently find the truth an annoyance, or even dangerous. Cover-ups are the order of the day – all done for the good of the institutions. Power players in governments and churches have become expert at the “art of the deal” all the while sleeping well as abuse and denial sustain their kingdoms for another day. Pilate would be proud!
And yet we return year after year to this feast that intrigues us and a savior who refused to make a deal with liars, despite the power they held. A Savior, who throughout his life, called power a ministry to be first offered to those left behind and badly beaten. A Savior who died for his kingdom and rose as a confirmed guide into its’ new order, and who liberates us from the need to hide the truth. It is this Savior we encounter again on this feast who allows us to reflect on the “deals” of our own lives and the harsh truth as to which kingdom we choose to belong to.
Questions for Reflection in your Faith Sharing Group:
1. What is an example in your experience of someone exercising healthy Christian authority?
2. What is an example in your experience of someone exercising unhealthy authority over others?