Feast of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King
30 October, AD 2011
By Fr. John E. Upham, Jr.
(TEXT: Colossians 1:12-20 and St. John 18:33-37.)
In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.
“Then Pilate said to him, ‘So you are a king?’ Jesus answered, ‘You say that I am a king. For this purpose was I born and for this purpose I have come into the world – to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears my voice.’” (St. John 18:37).
It is on this day that the Church boldly proclaims the Sovereignty and Lordship of Jesus Christ as King of the Universe and Sovereign of our Soul! As a celebration and Feast Day, it is one of the most recent of the Church, but its message is timeless and eternal. This Feast was first proclaimed by Pope Pius XI in December of 1925 to counter the effects of growing secular humanism and the devastating results of World War I, along with the rise in popularity of dictators like Mussolini who promised to make everything right, like a saviour to the Italian people. It was a time when people of Faith were being taken-in and deceived by earthly philosophies and false promises which made the “Self” the highestauthority. So the Church had to remind the faithful and proclaim to the world at large that the present state of things was a charade or a lie and that Jesus Christ was the true King of all Creation, no matter what the world’s “authorities, principalities, and rulers” proclaimed and taught.
It is evident from that time in history back to when Jesus and Pontius Pilate had their encounter in the Praetorium that not much had changed. The truth of Jesus Christ as Sovereign, both of Creation and of the Soul, was the Truth that Pilate could not bear to hear as he strode arrogantly out of the room after having asked Jesus the famous question, “What is Truth?” If he had only stayed and given Jesus a chance to answer that question, things might have been different. But as it is, Pilate doesn’t understand the kind of Kingdom Jesus is telling him about. Pilate is interpreting the whole discussion with Jesus from a physical, earthly perspective, as we would probably do ourselves. Most of us, so enculturated by the claims of authority and sovereignty attributed to the culture of that time would probably have turned a blind eye to Jesus and His claim on our life as Lord and Saviour, also. He looked and acted like an insurrectionist; a common criminal, certainly not like the King of the Universe! So Pilate continues to question Jesus in earthly terms and Jesus keeps answering Pilate in spiritual terms. “So you are a king?”, Pilate asks. To which Jesus responds, “You say that I am a king. For this was I born, and for this I have come into the world, to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears myvoice.” Now for some reason, the climax of this exchange between Jesus and Pilate is left out of our lectionary reading, when Pilate asks his famous question, “What is truth?” On Pilate’s part and from his perspective his question to Jesus is rhetorical. Posed to us, however, that question is the difference between Everlasting Life and oblivion!
For if the situation hadn’t changed from earthly perspectives of authority and sovereignty from the time of Jesus’ and Pilate’s encounter as seen in the Gospel for this morning until 1925, it has only gotten worse to this point in time. Government, Wall Street, Madison Avenue, terrorists, and even our own deluded Pride are clamouring louder each day as regards their supposed claim and lordship over our lives. Yet, by the Grace of God, we hear the words of the One who is the Way, the Truth, and the Life and find that the Truth is not a what, but a Who! For it is today that this reality, from all other Sunday worship services, coalesces into the central consciousness of the Church and we hear, proclaim, and celebrate this central mystery of our Faith! As St. Paul described Him to the Colossians, we know who has made us meet to be the inheritors of the saints in light. We know who has delivered us from darkness and transferred us to the Kingdom of His Beloved Son. We know that we have redemption through the forgiveness of our sins. We know who is the image of the invisible God, the first-born of all Creation, who is the Head of His Mystical Body, the Church. We know who has made peace through the blood of His Cross. We know who has reconciled us back to God the Father through the remission of our sins. And He is Jesus Christ, King of Kings and Lord of Lords, who, by being both King of the Universe and King of each individual Soul, has accomplished, by the offering of Himself, once, for all, as a full, perfect, and sufficient Sacrifice, the reconciliation of fallen Creation back unto God our Father and Creator. We remember and give thanks for this undeniable Truth each and every time we gather to share in the Eucharist of our Lord’s Body and Blood, but no more so than we do this day. For it is His Kingdom that is never-ending; not an earthly government’s. It is His Kingdom that holds real value; not Wall Street. And it is the Kingdom of Our God and of His Christ that turns our deluded and deceptive pride into true humility so that we might live into and share the Truth of God’s Love and the reality of His Kingdom with the world. The Proper Preface holds the key to understanding all that the Kingdom of God is and what Jesus has accomplished in this earth. For in it we read that God has anointed Jesus Christ with the oil of gladness to be a Priest forever and King of all; so that by offering Himself upon the Altar of the Cross, as a pure and atoning Victim, He might accomplish the mystery of mankind’s redemption; and, subduing unto Christ’s rule the whole Creation, might render unto the Father’s eternal Majesty, a kingdom endless and universal; a kingdom of truth and life; a kingdom of grace and holiness; a kingdom of Peace, of Love, and of Righteousness. These are not fallacies or lies like the world gives. Jesus’ Kingdom is a Kingdom of Truth. Jesus, Himself, told us, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No one cometh unto the Father but by me. This is what the Sovereignty of Christ the King has to offer His People. This is the Kingdom of which we have been made a part through our Baptism. This is what leads us week after week, month after month, year after year to the Truth that only Jesus Christ can give; not through oppression or fear, but out of Love and Abundant Life! Those are the realities of existence where Jesus Christ is the True King! Those are the realities of which Pontius Pilate could have been made aware. Those are the realities of the Life in which we participate as we look back to Jesus’ Birth, Life, Death, Resurrection, and Ascension and as we look forward to His Second Coming in Glory from the vantage point of this great day in the Church’s life.
The great message and joy that this day proclaims is for us to rededicate ourselves, Body and Soul, to Christ our True King and enthrone Him in our heart and life and acknowledge Him as Head of our existence, both physical and spiritual, and not let the clamouring of the world teach us to believe otherwise. For as we have arrived at that point of the Christian Year upon which our faith turns and we anticipate the season of Advent and the birth of the True King, so also we profess our faith that Jesus will come again at the end of all time and bring us into the fulness of His Kingdom! So let us join our selves, Body, Soul, and voices with those who proclaim Jesus Christ as King of Kings and Lord of Lords throughout eternity as we pray.
O GOD, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, from Who every family in heaven and earth is named: grant, we beseech Thee, that the earth may be filled with the knowledge of Thy Son, and that we may behold Him coming into His Kingdom. Grant that Thy Church may carry His Light to those who wait in the darkness for its shining, and that with one heart and one mind we may labour to build up the fellowship of all people in the family of Christ through the one Spirit; so that Thou, O Father, mayest gather together into one all things in Christ the True King; to Whom with Thee and the Holy Ghost be all honour and glory, dominion, and power; world without end. Amen.
And now, unto God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost be ascribed all might, majesty, power, and dominion as is most justly due both now and forever; world without end. Amen.
SOLI DEO GLORIA – JEU