To understand the feast we are celebrating today, the Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe, we need to recall the fundamental responsibility of a king. It is the duty of a king to govern his people, to ensure the justice, the safety, the peace, and the well-being of his subjects. The men throughout history who have been called kings have fulfilled this duty with varying degrees of success, but even the best of human kings certainly has never provided absolute and lasting safety, justice, peace, and well-being for his subjects. Only God could do that.
Since no human king can do perfectly what a king should do, God chose to come in human form, in the person of Jesus, to be the true and universal King of all races and nations. The coming of God as King was prophetically revealed in a vision to Daniel, as we read in today’s first reading. The prophet tells us what he saw: “One like a Son of man coming, on the clouds of heaven… the one like a Son of man received dominion, glory and kingship; all peoples, nations, and languages serve him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion.”
In the fullness of time, Daniel’s vision of the Son of man was fulfilled when Jesus came into the world. However, upon coming into the world, Jesus, the Son of Man, hid his majesty and glory, and people did not recognize him. As St. John says in the prologue of his Gospel, the Lord “came to his own and his own people did not accept him” (Jn 1:11). Jesus chose to demonstrate the kind of King he is through his Passion and Death, when the almighty God, “the Alpha and the Omega,” eternally glorious and majestic, submitted himself to human judgment.
When he was on trial, Jesus did not hide the fact that he is a king. However, he declared to Pilate, “My kingdom does not belong to this world.” He makes it obvious that he is a totally different kind of king. While kings of this world display their glory and make their power felt, Christ is a king who hides his glory here on earth and does not make his power felt. In a surprising way, he uses his royal power to save all his subjects from sin and death by means of his own suffering and death. He uses what seems to us to be foolishness and weakness in order to gain eternal security, peace and salvation (well-being) for us. As St. Paul says, “God’s foolishness is wiser than human wisdom and God’s weakness is stronger than human strength” (1 Cor 1:25). Paul is writing about the Crucified Christ, whom he identifies as “the power of God and the wisdom of God” (1:24), the central subject of his preaching ministry (cf. 1 Cor 2:2).
Jesus Christ further reveals the uniqueness of his kingship when, after admitting that he is in fact a king, but not of this world, he adds: “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.” To this, Pilate’s response is, “What is truth?” We do not know precisely what Pilate means by this skeptical question. Perhaps he is ignorant of the truth; perhaps he is afraid to accept it; perhaps he is hardening himself against it, thinking he can remain in control.
The truth that Jesus testifies to is more than mathematical or historical facts; rather, it is the fullness of what God wants us to know so that we can be saved. The truth is that God “loves us and has freed us from our sins by his Blood”; and he has “made us into a kingdom.” To “belong to the truth,” then, means to belong to Christ as his disciples, for he himself is the Truth – the Way, the Truth, and the Life – the Truth who sets us free. The answer to Pilate’s question, “what is truth?” is: Jesus Christ, the King of the Universe!
Our King reveals himself as a sacrificial offering, the Lamb of God. His Kingdom is the reign of love. He calls us to reign with him, to join him in the glory of Heaven, through the mystery of his Cross. Only those who listen to his voice and accept this truth, the logic of the Cross, can hope to enter fully into his Kingdom. As St. Rose of Lima says, “Apart from the Cross there is no other ladder by which we may get to Heaven” (cf. CCC 618). Though we do not yet see the glory of our King in this life, we look forward to that blessed vision when we die, and when this world will come to an end, when “every eye will see him, even those who pierced him.”
In the meantime, we participate in his Kingdom through our share in his Cross and our offering of ourselves in love. At every Holy Mass, where we encounter our King and the power of his Cross in the Eucharist, we receive the strength we need to persevere as members of his Kingdom, testifying to the truth with our lives, with joyful hope of reigning with him forever in Heaven.
How am I honoring my King by the way I live? In what ways am I not persevering in testifying to the truth in my life? Knowing that Jesus is the Truth, how do I live this reality in my daily life?
Excerpt from The Anawim Way, Volume 17, no. 8. More information about The Anawim Way may be found here.