CATHOLIC NEWS OF THE WEEK . Saturday, 13 April 2019

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Solemnity of Christ the King - The triumph of the defeated

At the dawn of the eve of the Passover, the Jews took Jesus and accused him of being a criminal. The question formulated for the very first interrogation was, “Are you the King of the Jews?”
 
The Jews had a gut-hatred towards the foreign rule of the Romans who had been ruling over Israel for years. There were unsuccessful attempts to overthrow them. 
 
The dialogue on kingship that elapsed between Jesus and Pilate is placed in this historical context. The first question of the prosecutor—“Are you the king of the Jews?”—aims to point out the charge and reveals the perplexity of Pilate who finds himself in front of a man, unarmed, with no soldiers to defend him, abandoned by his own friends and slapped by a temple guard. He does not seem the kind that can endanger the power of Rome.
 
Jesus responds with a counter question, to force the prosecutor to take responsibility, “Does this word come from you, or did you hear it from others?” In other words, do you have any reason to call me seditious, or are you paying attention to gossips? 
 
Pilate’s reply is almost resentful: “Am I a Jew?” That is: I am a Roman official and I administer justice in an autonomous way. He continues: “Your own nation and the chief priests have handed you over to me; what have you done?” 
 
It is at this point that the theme of the kingship of Christ comes alive.
 
Jesus tries to help the procurator to understand: “My kingship does not come from this world.” 
 
Pilate knows only the kingdoms of this world. They are run by men moved by ambition. They base themselves on the use of force and money, and are defended by force of arms. But for the Kingdom of Jesus force and money are signs of weakness and defeat. For him great is he who serves.
 
Pilate does not understand what Jesus is talking about. He only manages to make him a generic question: “So you are a king?”  Defeated as he stands and his hours counted, in front of the representative of the pagan world, he solemnly proclaims: “Yes, I am king.”
 
At the end of the trial and punishment, Pilate put an inscription in three languages: Hebrew, Latin and Greek, to be read and understood by all: “Jesus the Nazorean, the King of the Jews.”
 
Without realising it, the representative of the most powerful kingdom of this world officially recognised the kingship of Jesus. 
 
When the chief priests protested and asked him to have it rectified, he said that the statement was irreversible: “What I have written, I have written.” He, the depositary of the authority of the emperor, could not change it.
 
The victory of the vanquished had begun with their king lifted up on the cross. No kingdom of this world was now more able to halt the advance.
 
● Father Fernando Armellini CMF
Claretian Publications
 
https://sundaycommentaries.wordpress.com/2018/11/14/christ-the-king-november-25-2018/
Translated by Father John Ladesma SDB
Abridged by Father Jijo Kandamkulathy CMF