The Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe: John 18:33b-37
Today, we celebrate the Feast of Christ the King – Let us ask ourselves: Is Christ really a king? When Jesus stood before Pilate, he was asked, “Are you the king of the Jews?” Jesus refused to accept the title: “You have said it, not I.” Jesus rejected the whole idea of being a king and calls us also to reject this idea and to think of ourselves as being followers of Jesus. Many years ago, Mohandas Gandhi — the great Hindu religious leader in India, who brought about a revolution, an overthrow of the British Empire through active love, not violence — said about Christianity: “Christianity has not failed. It’s never been tried,” and I think, as we celebrate this Feast of Christ the King, it’s an evidence that we really back away from that idea of trying genuinely to follow Jesus!
What’s wrong with calling Jesus the king? Well, there are three things in the Gospels that have become very clear that we identify with kingship, with someone who is a king. Kings have power; kings have wealth; kings lord over others. Kings use force and kill to get their way. With Jesus, none of these is true! As we are called to celebrate this Feast of Christ the King, I think we must acknowledge that in so many ways, this idea of Jesus being a king goes against the genuine way of Jesus, because Jesus rejected power over others. Jesus wanted to be the servant of all. Jesus rejected excessive wealth; Jesus wanted everyone to share in the goods of the world that God made for all, and not for a few. Above all, Jesus rejected violence. Jesus chose the way of suffering and death, and Jesus shows real love for those who persecuted him because Jesus knew that the way of active love was the only way to transform our world into the reign of God!
Pope Francis addressed and challenged many cardinals and bishops in Rome: The Pope said, “Bishops must be humble and meek and live like servants, not princes.” Also, The Pope pointed out that the Church was never born with everything in order, in place, without problems, or confusions. However, this confusion and this disorder must be resolved and put in order by the power of the Holy Spirit; but we should not be afraid of all these, and it is a beautiful sign that the Holy Spirit is working in the Church. Pope Francis shows us the simplicity of life. He rejects the papal palace; he lives among ordinary people in a rented room, and he goes out among the people to be with them. He chats with them; he interacts with them. He doesn’t put himself above, and he lives this simple kind of life — having what he needs but not excess!
In Denmark, there is a beautiful cathedral; inside the cathedral, there is a famous statue of Christ the King. The famous artist, Burton Zen, made this statue. After his initial work on the statue, he kept the statue outside to get dry for a while. Suddenly, a heavy snowfall came down and the artist was so upset because he thought that the statue might be destroyed. After the snowfall, he went to see the statue, which looked so different from what he had made earlier. He had first imagined the statue holding both hands up like a king, controlling everyone; and the head of the statue was up, which showed the power of the kingship to everyone. After the snowfall, the statue becomes changed: the head of the statue bowed down in a humbling way, instead of showing power and both hands of the statue came down, welcoming everyone instead of controlling everyone. After seeing this new statue, the artist himself said, “This is the real statue of The Christ the King.”
We become the followers of Christ the King when we continue Jesus’ mission of service in complete honesty and faithfulness and by sharing Christ’s mercy and forgiveness with others. In our own lifetimes, St. Mother Theresa is a good example for us. Mother Theresa made a very strong comment that at the end of our lives, we will not be judged by how many diplomas we have received, by how much money we have made, or by how many great things we have done. We will be judged by the following standard: “I was hungry, and you gave me to eat. I was naked and you clothed me. I was homeless and you took me in.” Mother Theresa goes on to say: “I was hungry not only for bread but hungry for love; naked not only for clothing but for human dignity and respect; homeless not only for want of a room made of bricks but homeless because of rejection.” For whatever we do for the least of these needy children of God, we do for Jesus Himself!