As the visions during the night continued, I saw one like a Son of man coming, on the clouds of heaven; when he reached the Ancient One and was presented before him, the one like the Son of man received dominion, glory, and kingship; all peoples, nations, and languages serve him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that shall not be taken away, his kingship shall not be destroyed.(P) The word of the Lord.
The Lord is king, in splendor robed; robed is the Lord and girt about with strength. (R)
And He has made the world firm, not to be moved. Your throne stands firm from of old; from everlasting you are, O Lord. (R)
Your decrees are worthy of trust indeed; holiness befits your house, O Lord, for length of days. (R)
Jesus Christ is the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead and ruler of the kings of the earth. To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood, who has made us into a kingdom, priests for his God and Father, to him be glory and power forever and ever. Amen. Behold, He is coming amid the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him. All the peoples of the earth will lament him. Yes, Amen.
"I am the Alpha and the Omega," says the Lord God, "the one who is and who was and who is to come, the almighty."(P) The word of the Lord.
Pilate said to Jesus, "Are you the King of the Jews?" Jesus answered, "Do you say this on your own or have others told you about me?" Pilate answered, "I am not a Jew, am I? Your own nation and the chief priest handed you over to me. What have you done?" Jesus answered, "My kingdom does not belong to this world. If my kingdom did belong to this world, my attendants would be fighting to keep me from being handed over to the Jews. Bu as it is, my kingdom is not here." So Pilate said to him, "Then you are a king?" Jesus answered, "You say I am a king. For this I was born and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice."(P) The Gospel of the Lord.
Today, on the thirty fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time, we conclude the Liturgical Year "B" which began on the First Sunday of Advent last year. It is fitting that the year ends with a celebration of the Kingship of our Lord Jesus Christ. Unlike many of our liturgical feasts, such as the feast of the Epiphany, the feast of the Immaculate Conception, the feast of the Transfiguration of our Lord Jesus, etc., which have been celebrated for centuries, the Feast of Christ the King is relatively a recent addition to the liturgical calendar.
In 1925, at the close of the Jubilee Year marking the sixteenth centenary of the Council of Nicaea, Pope Pius XI introduced this feast. However, it is believed that this feast was instituted at a time when the Catholic Church felt threatened by the rise of agnosticism, atheism, and secularism around the world, and the Pope felt the need to bolster the faith of the beleaguered chosen people of God. He called on the believers to reassert the sovereignty of Christ over their lives, to show the fidelity and loyalty owed to Christ, whose humble birth and sacrificial death on the cross had made them both adopted children of God plus future citizens and heirs of the Kingdom of Heaven.
There are over 200 names and titles of Christ found in the Bible: these reflect the nature of Christ, His position in the Trinity and His work on earth. Some of the names include: "Holy One", Acts (3:14), Psalm (16:10), "Son of God", John (1:49); "Son of man", John (5:27); "Word of God", Revelation (19:12-13); "Light of the World" (John 8:12); "Alpha and Omega", Rev (1:8); "Emmanuel", Isaiah (9:6), Matthew (1:23); "Lamb of God" (John 1:29); "Good Shepherd", John (10:11); "High Priest", Hebrews (2:17); "Resurrection and Life", John (11:25) and so on.
Although "king" is a late addition to the titles of our Lord Jesus Christ, He has been recognized and honoured as a king in many places by Christians over the centuries. In fact, more than any other notions, Christ's kingship has its roots both in the Old and the New Testament of the Bible. For instance, in the Old Testament, the Messiah is portrayed as a king or a high priest traditionally anointed with the holy anointing oil. Prophets, like Samuel, 2 Samuel (22:51); Isaiah (9:6-7, 32:1); Jeremiah (23:5); Zechariah (9:9) and Daniel (9:25-27) had foretold everything about Jesus, including the fact that He would come as our king.
Several New Testament episodes also speak of Jesus' kingship. At the annunciation, Mary was informed by the angel Gabriel that Jesus would be born to sit on the throne of His ancestor, King David, Luke (1:29-33). The Magi from the Far East came to Jerusalem and inquired after the new-born King of the Jews, for they had seen his star at its rising, Matthew (2:2). All the four gospels have recorded that Jesus' followers gave Him a royal welcome befitting the messianic king by waving palm branches and placing their garments in His path and, singing "Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord", Matthew (21), Mark (11), Luke (19) and John (12).
In order for Jesus to be sentenced to death and executed, Jewish leaders accused Jesus of treason against the Romans and blasphemy for claiming to be the Messiah, a king, Luke (23:2). By order of Pontius Pilate, the Roman governor of Judea who presided at the trial of Jesus, a plaque was nailed above the head of Jesus on the cross that read, INRI, which stems from the Latin phrase "Iesus Nazarenus Rex Iudaeorum" meaning "Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews". And finally, Jesus Himself promised that He, the Son of Man, will return as the King of heaven and earth, to judge the righteous and the unrighteous, Matthew (25:31-46). Moreover, the Kingship of Christ is also expressed in His teaching of "the Kingdom of God" throughout His ministry.
However, in His trial before Pilate, a part of which we read in today's gospel, Jesus clarified His kingship and kingdom. When Pilate asked Jesus if He was the king of the Jews in an attempt to assess Him as a potential political threat to the Romans, Jesus answered, "My kingdom does not belong to this world. If my kingdom did belong to this world, my attendants would be fighting to keep me from being handed over to the Jews. But as it is, my kingdom is not here", John (18:36). In His reply, Jesus clearly implies that Jesus is a king but not a king in the political sense. "His kingdom does not belong to this world", means that the nature and origin of His kingdom do not belong to this world.
To put it differently, Jesus' kingdom is not a literal, physical, and visible kingdom like the Roman empire, but rather a spiritual and invisible kingdom; His kingdom is not built upon legalities but upon beatitudes, such as humility, meekness, comfort, righteousness, mercy, purity, peace and sacrifice, His reign is not over land but over people's heart; and His kingship is grounded not on physical force but on love, Matthew (5:1-12).
When Pilate pressed further, Jesus was very emphatic in saying, "You say I am a king. For this I was born and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth", John (18:37a). In other words, Jesus was indeed born a king, and He came into the world to be a king, but the establishment of His kingdom is by bearing witness to the truth. The truth that Jesus was referring to was not so much in terms of being honest or not telling lies, but in declaring or confirming God's existence and His love for humankind.
Through His birth, teachings, miracles, trials, crucifixion and death, Jesus did just that; He confirmed the truth. In the end, Jesus claimed, "Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice", John (18:37b). "Everyone" here includes anyone who comes to "the true light that enlightens everyone", John (1:9); anyone who truly seeks to know God, Deuteronomy (4:29); Matthew (6:33); Hebrews (10:22); and anyone who "loves his neighbour as himself", 1 John (2:9), Mark (12:31). That is to say, the word of truth is readily received by those who have already believed Jesus' teachings on God's love and in turn love God, but not by those who have not believed. In fact, the Prophet Isaiah has rightly said, "If you do not believe, you will not understand", Isaiah (7:9).
Even though today's gospel ends with Jesus' claim that everyone who belongs to the truth listens to His voice, it is not the end of the trial, for Pilate had immediately asked Jesus, "What is truth?" Pilate's question shows that just as Jesus had said, he was unable to understand what truth is. As he had no faith, he failed to recognize the truth in Jesus. And when the Jewish crowd called for the release of a notorious prisoner named Barabbas over Jesus, Pilate, despite his confession that he found no crime in Jesus, released Barabbas, and allowed Jesus to be scourged, mocked and crowned with thorns, and ordered a sign posted above Jesus on the cross stating "Jesus of Nazareth, The King of the Jews". Barabbas, the name means the "son of the father", was chosen over Jesus Christ, the true "Son of God", our Eternal, Heavenly Father.
What is the message for us?
Today's feast provides us an opportunity to acknowledge that Jesus Christ is, in fact our King. It is one thing to say that He is our King because the biblical passages have spoken of it, or the Church has declared it, or the priest has said it. Yes, as Saint Paul writes, "Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God", Romans (10:17). But it is quite another thing to personally affirm the declarations of the prophets, the Church, our ancestors and fellow believers, and there is no better day than today to do that.
We have read and reflected about Jesus Christ, according to the gospel of Mark, in greater detail and depth since the first week of Advent last year. It is only fitting that, today, we come before Jesus, bow in gratitude and acknowledge that He is our King, and has supreme power and authority over every part of our lives - our spirit, our body, our thoughts, our emotions, and our will. Thus, it must become a daily act in our life. Jesus Christ is not our King if we do not obey and submit to His authority.
On this great Feast of Christ, the King, let us rededicate ourselves to the truth by listening to the voice of Christ and recognizing the reign of Christ by obeying His teachings.(P) Amen.
God Bless You!