This weekend we come to the end of our Liturgical year, as we celebrate the Feast of Christ the King. Its difficult to know what the notion of Kingship means today in North America. Here in Canada, Queen Elizabeth II is our monarch, but most of us, I suspect give her little thought in terms of governance and power over us, and see her in terms of a figurehead and tradition, and ritualistic ceremony. This, of course, was not always the case – and throughout history, dating back to Ancient times through the time of Jesus and to this present day in some parts of the world, kingship inspires thoughts of great power and wealth, and being pampered and served by a host of servants – and this often comes with thoughts of abuse and exploitation.
As we listen to the dialogue between Jesus and Pilate this Sunday, we cannot help but note the mocking tone of the discourse, and eventually Jesus has a royal robe placed on shoulders, and a crown of thorns on his head, and with laughing scorn hailed as King of the Jews by Pilate, the Roman soldiers, and many of his own people. Yet, as we listen carefully, we also sense that Jesus is the one with the real power, and he allows himself to be humiliated as he proclaims that his kingdom is not of this world, and that he has come to testify to the truth. “If my Kingdom were from this world, my followers would be fighting to keep me from being handed over….”Sister Barbara Reid, a professor of New Testament studies at Catholic Theological Union in Chicago Illinois, puts it this way:
When Pilate queries, “Are you the King of the Jews?” Jesus shifts the discussion away from himself as king and speaks instead about his “kingdom.” By using imperial language to speak of God’s realm where love and fullness of life reign supreme, Jesus subverts kingly expressions of power that exploit and abuse others…. He calls his followers “friends” and invites them into a community of beloved disciples in which the leaders are the first to wash the feet of those least regarded….. Jesus speaks of his mission not in terms of a conquering king, but as one who testifies to the truth. All it takes to belong to this kingdom where truth reigns is to listen to his voice. America Magazine
As we gather for Eucharist this Sunday ,we come to the end of our liturgical year. Next Sunday is our New Year – a time of resolutions. Let us pray that as we journey through advent to Christmas that we resolve to more fervently listen to the voice of our King.