Today’s feast of Christ the King was instituted in 1925 by Pius XI when all of Europe had nightmare memories of what they called then, “the threat of war,” a time of an explosion of hatred, blindness and a torrent of blood that wiped out most of Europe at that time. The swastika, a disfigurement of the cross, was ready to lurch across Germany. Piercing the sound of these ideology hate-filled speeches, the Pope’s message of justice, peace and love was lighting a new spark. In initiating this feast, the church wanted to take our worship of Jesus from the privacy of our hearts and to proudly proclaim his public sway as well.
II. GOSPEL: The gospel may sound inappropriate; the image of Jesus being indicted by Pilate does not evoke the image of a King. Yet in the course of Pilate’s interrogation of Jesus the latter was in majestic command of the interchange. Pilate was at loss everytime Jesus responded to the nature of his kingship.
At the crucifixion, the bystanders and one of the criminals executed with Jesus, know what it means to be a king and so they taunt Jesus with the demand that He use His power to save Himself. For Jesus, however, a king is not one who saves himself, but one who saves others. It is in the mocking words of the scoffers and in the inscription put over the cross, that we are faced with the true nature of Jesus’ kingship. Save yourself and us, is another temptation for Jesus. Just as Jesus had earlier challenged his vocational identity three times and offered him a less painful option, so is Jesus is being invited to save himself. But with His lack of response to the scoffers, Jesus clearly remains steadfast in fulfilling his divine will. He is resolutely committed to God’s plan which includes death.
Only in the powerlessness of the cross can he demonstrate that authority, ultimately rescuing criminals, scoffers and religious leaders. Refusing the voices of temptation, Jesus defines for us what sort of King he really is.
This means Christian faith is not a power game that follows the rules and logic of most power plays we know – retaliation, competition, self-protectiveness and the like.
III. WORD: The Kingdom of God here on Earth.
1. Power is service, not for dominion and domination. To be a king is to serve, not to be served. Stories of DAP and PDAF, of short projects and misappropriation, point to the misuse and abuse of power. One aspect of our life that need evangelizing is in the political. We observe that many of us would like to seal off our political life from influences of faith and allegation in the guise of church and state separation. Politics relates to the exercise of power in society. It is a new world here on earth, not in heaven as understood, “in the sky above,” that is why we don’t pray, “we go to heaven,” instead we pray that “God’s Kingdom come here on earth…” Salvation did not mean escaping earth, being indifferent to politics. It is rather living a meaningful life on earth.
2. The Kingdom as an end to power relationship. Relationships based on power are oppressive…they are dehumanizing for both oppressor and the oppressed. Sometimes we hear, “Ginagamit lang tayo” when someone uses somebody, when you treat him like a thing. When the powerful imposes his will on the powerless. The latter becomes less free, less responsible, less of a creature. The oppressor, likewise demeans, lording it over. I observed this paradigm operating within our parish setting; parish leaders sowing fear among parish workers as they find their servant-leaders more to be feared than love and respected.
3. The Kingdom is offered to all, it is not only for the friars but for all believers regardless of their church affiliation, membership and religious sentiments. Our understanding of our vocation is only within the parameters of the Church and hence we are preoccupied with dogmas and doctrines, rites and rituals that separates us from other people of goodwill. We need to situate His vocation within the universal context of the Kingdom of God. Hence we are willing to set aside doctrine and ritual differences in order to work with everyone in shaping the Kingdom of God where there is justice, peace and love.