This weekend we celebrate the Solemnity of Christ the King. What does it mean to say that Christ is King? In today’s Gospel when Pilate pushes Jesus as to whether he is a king or not Jesus says his kingdom does not belong to this world. The reason Jesus came was to testify to the truth. Unless we hear the truth of Jesus we may have a difficult time understanding this Feast.
In his reflection on this weekend’s solemnity in Celebration Fr. Roger Karban says:
“In John’s Gospel, Jesus is diametrically opposed to the values that kings in his day and age represented. He is not interested in having power and dominion over others. He’s concerned that we learn the truth of God’s will for all creation. God’s will eschews all royal force and control. It’s intended to be a new way of relating to others.
So we are confronted by the irony that all the Gospel passages we employ in all three cycles to celebrate the feast of Christ the King tell us not to celebrate the feast!”
Fr. Karban goes on to remind us that Jesus’ ministry doesn’t focus on acquiring power for himself, but on creating an environment in which each of us discovers the power he or she already possesses: the power and dignity God instilled in us at the moment of our conception.
In Chapter 6 of Mark’s Gospel, Jesus doesn’t miraculously feed the crowd; he gets his followers to do it, even though they originally presume that they are powerless to do so. Later in Mark’s Gospel we are reminded that following him isn’t about seats of glory. Whoever wishes to be great will serve.
Fr. Ed Hays often reminds us, “Jesus first followers imitated him long before they worshiped him.” After his death and resurrection, they actually believed they were carrying on his ministry. They were gradually acquiring his value system. What he had done, they were doing. We know from the Gospels that the heart of Jesus’ value system revolves around making our relationships with God and others the focal point of our lives. It is in the giving of ourselves to others that we begin to notice a presence of God that we formerly overlooked. Then we begin to understand what Jesus’ kingdom was all about.
Fr. Karban points out that basic church history reveals that within 150 years of the founding events and scriptural accounts, some of Jesus followers began to buy into the very ideas and practices that were the grounds for his Roman crucifixion. Instead of witnessing an alternative way of looking at reality, century by century the institutional church started to appropriate for itself the very structures and philosophy of those organizations that control rather than serve people. “What we were expected to overcome, overcame us.”
The Second Vatican Council called us back to imitate Jesus, to ask the question, “How do I serve as Jesus served?”