The Solemnity of Christ the King, Year B – 15
Dn.7:13-14/ Rev.1:5-8/ Jn.18:33-37
The word “legacy” will give rise to some images and ideas in our minds. One of which is that of how a person has left his influence and his mark in this world even if he is no more in this world. Another is that the mention of the person’s name will make others recall what he has done and contributed to mankind.
Examples of this would be people like Alexander the Great, Beethoven, Thomas Edison and maybe even Steve Jobs. Alexander was the first king to be called “the Great” and subsequently the title of “the Great” was used for people with great achievements.
Beethoven was a great musician who left behind a legacy of great classical compositions (e.g. the famous 5th Symphony). Thomas Edison left behind a legacy of inventions, and one of the famous ones was the lightbulb. And Steve Jobs’ legacy is in the digital world of mobile phones, laptops and computers.
So for a person and his name to go down into history and be remembered through the ages, it means that he has left behind a legacy, a legacy that lives on. In today’s gospel, we come across a person who didn’t really leave behind a legacy. Maybe we can only say that he was just part of a legacy.
The name Pilate, Pontius Pilate, has gone down into history as the man who sentenced Jesus to death. His name is mentioned in the Creed, but not as someone with a great achievement, nor did he leave behind a legacy. Pontius Pilate could have left behind a legacy, but he became a tragedy.
He became a tragedy in the sense that he will always be known as the one who sentenced Jesus to death, despite knowing that Jesus was innocent. He even tried to deny any responsibility in the death of Jesus by the symbolic gesture of washing his hands.
But the truth is that he had the final say in the sentencing of Jesus. Yes, that is the truth. Pontius Pilate has the power and authority to acquit or condemn Jesus. He himself knew that Jesus was innocent and in fact he was eager to release him.
But after the chief priests and the people mentioned about Caesar being their only king, Pilate became anxious for his own security and his own interests and future. Yet, as we heard Pilate question Jesus about His authority, we can see that the tables were being turned around.
Jesus stated that He is a king but His kingdom is not of this world. He came into the world to bear witness to the truth and those who are on the side of the truth will listen to His voice. And Pilate was left to decide. Which king was he going to serve? The king of this world?
Or will he serve the King of truth and hence stand on the side of truth? Pilate was to judge Jesus, but in the end he had to judge for himself. He had to decide for which side he will stand on. And Pilate went down in history and into our Creed as the one who choose to stand on the dark side of falsehood. He could have been a legacy but he ended up as a tragedy. Because in condemning Jesus, Pilate also condemned himself. By not standing for the truth, Pilate did not have anywhere to stand on, neither in this world nor in the next.
And yet the tragedy that Pilate left behind continues to fester in the dark side of our lives, as we turn away from the truth and hide from the truth.
There is this story of a little boy and his sister who went to visit their grandparents in the countryside. He had a catapult and he practiced in the fields but he could never hit his target. As he came back to his grandma’s backyard, he happened to see her pet duck.
Out of impulse, he took aim and let fly a shot. The stone hit the duck squarely and it fell dead. The boy panicked. Desperately, he hid the dead duck in the barn, only to look up and see his sister watching. His sister, Sally had seen it all, but she said nothing.
After lunch that day, Grandma said, “Sally, let’s wash the dishes.” But Sally said, “Johnny told me that he wanted to wash the dishes today. Didn’t you, Johnny?” And she whispered to him, “Remember the duck?” So Johnny had to wash the dishes.
Later, Grandpa wanted to bring the two children fishing. Grandma said, “Oh, I am sorry but I need Sally to help prepare dinner.” Sally smiled and said, “Oh, Johnny said that he wants to do it.” Again, Sally whispered, “Remember the duck?” And so Johnny stayed and Sally went fishing.
After a couple of days of doing the chores, Johnny became frustrated and desperate and he couldn’t take it anymore. So he confessed to Grandma that he had killed her pet duck. Grandma held his face in her hands and said, “I know, Johnny.
I was standing at the window and saw the whole thing. There and then, I forgave you because I love you. I was wondering how long you are going to hide the truth and let Sally make a slave out of you.” Yes, when we hide the truth, we become slaves of sin and end up in tragedy.
But Christ our King invites us to listen to His voice and stand on the side of truth and the truth will let us free. Christ our King wants us to be free so that we can be His living legacy of honesty, sincerity, humility and faithfulness.
Just as Christ the King called out to Pilate to stand by Him, Christ the King also calls us to stand by Him. If we don’t stand by Christ our King, then we won’t have anywhere to stand at all, neither in this world, nor in the next.
What is the relevance of this feast today? The Feast of Christ the King was instituted during a time when respect for Christ and the Church was waning. In fact, this feast is still needed today, as these problems have not vanished, but have worsened.
We are so discouraged with the present condition of conflict among the nations, and the threat of new wars, corrupt leaders, overwhelming greed, individualism, terrorism and the absence of morals. By the celebration of this feast today, we are reminded that Christ must reign our lives.
We must give him sovereign power over our bodies, our thoughts, our heart and our will. In every moral decision we face, there’s a choice between Christ the King and Barabbas, and the one who seeks to live in Christ’s Kingdom is the one who says, “Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in Heaven.”
Let us ask ourselves the question, “What does Jesus, my King, want me to do or say in this situation?” Let us pray each day that Jesus the King will give us the right words to say to the people we meet that day, words that will make us true ambassadors of Jesus.
Let our home life as well as the way we conduct ourselves with our friends come under the Kingship of Jesus. What a blessing we have in Christ our King! What a blessing to be able, with Christ, to walk in the glorious freedom of the sons and daughters of God. Amen.