Truth: the Mission of Christ the King
There was once a Salesian missionary priest who I had gone for Confession to. Every time he starts giving the penance he says, ‘Jesus, be the King of my heart.’ Looking back at this experience, it allows me to ask myself, “what is the place of God in my life? These words continue to resonate in me even until today as a prayer to allow the Lord Jesus to be the only one reigning in my life: ‘Jesus, be the king of my heart.’ Is Jesus really the one reigning in our hearts, in our lives, and in everything that we do?
Today we celebrate the solemnity of Christ the King. This Sunday also marks the end of the liturgical year. Next Sunday we shall start with a new year in the Church with the Season of Advent. This celebration of Christ the King always serves as a reminder for us that Jesus would come again in glory. In our present time, especially in our country, we do not experience being ruled by a king. And the title of king that we attribute to Jesus is also something ironic because throughout his earthly life, he never claimed political or physical power other than the power of words and example. He was a preacher, a teacher, a storyteller, a miracle worker. He sought out powerless people, often the victims of power– the poor, sick and social outcasts. The evangelists depict his death as a kind of parody of kingship: Jesus is cloaked in purple, crowned with thorns, enthroned on a cross between two thieves, mocked as the “King of the Jews.” His crucifixion is a sign of contradiction that turns upside down any notion of power and control. The power Jesus practiced was self-emptying love and unlimited mercy. His throne as king is not any expensive and elaborately decorated chair but the cross. His power and authority as king was in His loving service to everyone.
When Pilate asked Jesus the question, “are you the King of Jews,” His answer was not something that the governor expected. Jesus answered him, “My kingdom does not belong to this world.” All the more Pilate became curious and asked, “Then you are a king?” And our Lord revealed to Pilate the core of God’s Kingdom and mission by saying, “For this I was born and for this I came into the world to testify to the truth. Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice.” Truth. This is the mission of our Lord and this is also a quality/attitude of those who belong to Him.
This is also the proclamation of Jesus in the Gospel when He said these words during His public ministry, “I am the Way, and the Truth, and the Life.” According to our catechism, “Man tends by nature towards the truth.” When truth is lived as uprightness in human action and speech, it is called truthfulness or sincerity. Truth is the virtue which consists in showing oneself true in deeds and truthful in words, and in guarding against duplicity and hypocrisy. Jesus has exposed the insincerity and the lies in the words and actions of some Pharisees and scribes and also that of Pilate. If they only listened to Him, they would have changed their lives and followed Him. But they instead were blinded by power, fame, riches, and honor. This is also something that we see in some of our leaders and officials who, in the name of public service, are chosen by the people. Unfortunately, when they are in authority, they forget their promise of service and do the opposite instead. Our Lord Jesus as King is one who truly served in humility.
Nowadays, people who tell the truth and live the truth are challenged, set aside, and persecuted. Many of us believe more in fake news and information that are according to our liking. The national elections are coming soon, and we are asked to be critical especially when we want to know what is true and what is not, what is real and what is fake, what is right and what is wrong. This is the invitation of the Lord Jesus to all of us at the end of today’s Gospel when He said, “Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice.” If we are persons who uphold the truth and defend it, then we are listening to the Lord Jesus and is one with Him in His mission. One of the spiritual works of mercy is to instruct the ignorant and those who do not know the faith. This is where we, as Christians can share the truth about God to them. Of course, our sharing the truth will become more credible if we live the truth, say always the truth. We have the examples of many of our saints who stood up for the truth to the point of giving up their life: St. Peter and the apostles, St. Maximilian Kolbe, our very own Filipino saints, San Lorenzo Ruiz and San Pedro Calungsod and many others. The lives of these saints are an assurance for us that when we listen to the truth, live in truth, and share the truth, we will be with the source and author of all truth, God Himself. In this way, we proclaim in words and deeds that Jesus indeed is the King of our hearts, He is the King of our lives, He is the King of us all. Amen.
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