A FULL CIRCLE
So this weekend, with the feast of Christ the King, our church year has come a full circle. How quickly the year slips by! On such a feast it is tempting to simply be distracted by titles and exclude ourselves from the richness of this feast. The title should not be a barrier. The reality is that we live in a world of titles – President Trump, Prime Minister Morrison, Queen Elizabeth II, Premier Palaszczuk, Lord Mayor Quirk. The titles we use help define who we are and how we relate to each other.
So the question is: how does giving Christ the title of King define him?
I think the kingship title is our feeble attempt, using the limitations of human language, to describe Christ’s kingdom which has neither boundaries nor walls, neither castes nor classes. Indeed, the more you think about it the more comfortable the title becomes. Christ the King whose crown is compassion; Christ the King, whose sceptre is humility; Christ the King whose court belongs to the poor, the forgotten, the lost, the despairing; Christ the King whose message is forgiveness and reconciliation; Christ the King whose rule is one of humble service.
So ultimately Jesus’ Kingdom is not about ruthless power, or royal attendants, or all those things we normally think of when thinking of kings. Vatican Two describes Christ’s kingship in these few words, “to reign is to serve.”
A more fundamental question is what does it mean for me personally to call Christ King? Perhaps today’s Gospel might give us a clue!
This year we celebrate the Kingship of Jesus with John’s Gospel account of what is perhaps Jesus’ most humiliating moment: his appearance before Pilate. It is a fascinating exchange between Pilate, a man of no great talent or competence, and Jesus who actually dominates the encounter. Pilate has been basically blackmailed by the Jewish establishment into executing Jesus for their ends, and it becomes obvious that he has no idea what Jesus is talking about when speaks about “the truth.”
Jesus proclaims himself ruler of a kingdom built of compassion, humility, love and truth – it is a power that Pilate cannot comprehend in his small, narrow view of the world.
To be a disciple is to make a choice. To be a faithful disciple of Christ this week is to be a servant of the truth! This is the choice we need to make if we want to move from our often small and narrow view of the world.
The obvious, tangible sign of Christ’s reign in our midst can be glimpsed in a truth that liberates and renews, a truth that gives life and sustains hope. In practical terms it means basing our lives on a truth that transcends rationalisations, half-truths and delusions. Actually it is a truth that serves as a looking glass for seeing the world in the intended design of God.
Consciously trying to do that this week is not bad preparation for the start of Advent!
Wishing you every blessing for the journey ahead,
Fr Peter Brannelly