The Solemnity of Christ the King, 2021 (Year B): Dan 7:13-14; Rev 1:5-8; Jn 18:33b-37
Sunday, November 21, 2021
Homily Notes for Christ the King, 2021 (Year B): Dan 7:13-14; Rev 1:5-8; Jn 18:33b-37
· Whenever we recite the Nicene or Apostles Creed at Mass or during a devotional prayer like at the start of the Rosary, we always mention the name of one historical figure. Yes, in the creeds we profess our faith in God the Father, God the Son, Jesus Christ and God the Holy Spirit, but we also mention the name of one Pontius Pilate. It is possible Pilate has been the most named historical figure in human history when one considers how many times the Creeds have been proclaimed by Christians over the centuries.
· Few in the 1st Century AD would have ever heard of Pontus Pilate. Born into the moderately wealthy and power Pontii family of Roman Italy, Pilate eventually was named the 5th Governor of Judaea. Deemed to be a relatively unimportant posting, Pilate was expected to head the Roman Legions stationed in Judaea, exercise judicial powers, including executions, and assure Roman taxes were collected.
· Pilate was deemed by the historians of his time such as Josephus to be a cruel and obstinate man, unconcerned with offending the religious traditions of the Jewish people when he put images of the Emperor around the Holy City of Jerusalem, remembering the Romans believed their emperor to be a living god and so was deemed an idol by the Jews, and used the temple treasury money, which was meant for the works of God, to build an aqueduct. He also allowed his legions to line the highways of Judaea with crucified freedom fighters and even had them crucified to the walls of Jerusalem.
· His mission was to keep the peace, crush rebellion, stay in the favour of Caesar and assure taxes kept flowing back to Rome!
· And then one Jesus of Nazareth, said to be the King of the Jews, was brought into his presence to determine if this man was guilty of sedition against the Empire and as such should be executed by crucifixion.
· The stage was set and in a short exchange, Pilate and Jesus undertake one of the most important conversations in human history. A man of limited power, but who was said by the ruling power of his time to be the sole authority to put men to death in the region he governed or to allow them to live, was set as judge of a man of unlimited power, whom Daniel said was the One who is Ancient of Days and the seer of Revelation said is the firstborn of the dead and ruler of the kings of the earth, who will one day come of the clouds of heaven and bearing the wounds of his Passion will cause the entire world to lament when they see His Riven Wounds and await as He who is the Alpha and Omega will judge the whole of creation.
· There could not have been a more mismatched trial in terms of men, one of worldly power and one of eternal power, but such was the will of the Heavenly Father that Pontius Pilate would judge the Son of God.
· Are you a king? The question is reasonable but the one who asks is not open to hear of Jesus’ kingdom being not of this world and is opened to all who belong to him for having heard the everlasting truths that come from having faith in him.
· Pilate could have entered the kingdom Jesus said was not of this world, but Pilate was a man solely of this world, whose concern was temporal power, public prestige and a utilitarian need to assure he held on to what limited influence he had.
· Tragically, the mindset of Pilate is one that too many in the world today and throughout the ages have adopted. Their concern is to have power and dominion here and now, even if it is just a small bit of power or perceived to be power when in fact few, if any, really see such a person as having any real influence on the pressing matters of the day. Delusions of grandeur have haunted the past and continue to seduce those in the present!
· Though it appears Pilate believed Jesus to be innocent, it was more expedient, shrewd and supposedly prudent to put him to death, end his supposed reign as king and move on with life; for innocent life is expendable to those who feel their limited power is threatened.
· In the end, Pilate gained little personally by putting Jesus to death. He would soon after put down a rebellion in Samaria with brutal force, so much so that he was removed from being governor and sentenced to stand trial before Caesar Caligula, though history tells us nothing of whether the trial ever took place. Some traditions claim Pilate committed suicide while others simply saying nothing of importance about him as his time on earth came to an end.
· Yet Pilate is remembered by Christians whenever the Creed is prayed for having played a role in allowing the Kingship of Jesus Christ to be realized through the horror of the Cross and Glory of the Resurrection!
· Pilate can teach us today two important lessons. The first is that seeking to obtain and hold onto worldly power and influence rarely brings someone true happiness. Pilate gained little by executing Jesus, just as powerful men and women who trample on the rights of the innocent rarely achieve any lasting power or prestige in the memory of humanity. Let us then be on guard by the ways we can be seduced to exercise power and domination over others!
· The second lesson is that though Pilate sought to bring an end to the Kingship of Jesus Christ, the Lord will always triumph over those who seek to put obstacles before his eternal reign. Christ the King cannot be defeated and no matter how hard worldly men and women might try to obstruct his rule or through their actions declare “we do not want this man to rule over us”, Jesus will always win and confound the powerful when he raises up those who are meek and humble of heart to bring goodness into the world.
· Today we rejoice in the kingship of Jesus. Let us pray for the Pilates of our world, that they might have a change of heart in their pursuit of power and accept Christ as their king, and to those of us who follow our king, who came to serve and not be served, that we not be discouraged when it seems the reign of Christ the King is rejected, but instead by our words and deeds show others that in following him His dominion endures forever.