REFLECTIONS ON THE GOSPEL
For many people today kingship presents an alien and anachronistic image. The interesting thing is that early Christian believers probably thought the same. The idea of Jesus as King, bound up with recognising him as the Jewish Messiah, had overtones of power and domination that must have seemed incongruous in view of his life, teaching, and death upon a cross.
The idea of kingship had to be reworked before it could be suitably applied to him. We see this in today’s Gospel featuring Jesus’ trial before Pontius Pilate.
Jesus’ adversaries try to show that he is a king (‘King of the Jews’) in the sense of a messianic claimant to David’s throne and hence a threat to Roman rule. Jesus owns his kingship but redefines it away from the kind of worldly rule that could rival Rome.
All kingship requires allegiance. The allegiance that Jesus has as king is an allegiance of love from all those who are ‘on the side of truth. ‘Truth’ in the sense of the Fourth Gospel means the revelation of God, as Jesus reveals God to be, and the view of human life that flows from that vision Jesus’ whole life has been a revelation, defence and witness to ‘truth’ in this sense. Now he is on trial for it.
Pilate may have the physical power of Rome behind him. Jesus has the allegiance of all who seek the truth. They will suffer for bearing witness to it, as he did. Today’s feast asserts that those who have shared his witness will share his victory too.
Brendan Byrne, SJ
Catholic Hymnal – “Hail Redeemer King Divine”:
BEARING WITNESS TO THE TRUTH.
Jesus Christ is the faithful witness. His role as king is to bear witness to the truth that God is love (1 Jn 4:8, 16). He does this through his words but most especially through his death on the cross. By listening to his voice and participating in the Eucharistic banquet we are drawn closer to him. Then, as sharers in his kingship, we are commissioned to go out and promote the kingdom of God in our world.
Hail Redeemer King Divine- Saint Mary’s Cathederal Choir: