Jesus reigns as King of the Universe who witnesses to the truth
By: By Tim Irwin
Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe/Nov. 22
Daniel 7:13-14; Psalm 93:1,1-2,4; Revelation 1:5-8; John 18:33b-37
This Sunday marks the end of the church year with readings that proclaim the end of the church’s mission. The climax of the church’s mission can be found in the answer to Pilate’s question to Jesus recounted in this week’s Gospel: “Are you the King of the Jews?” The covenant between God and the Children of Israel formed the context within which the person of Jesus Christ and his messianic mission were revealed to humanity.
The first reading from the Prophet Daniel presents a vision of the parousia — the second coming of Jesus Christ. Daniel writes, “As the visions during the night continued, I saw one like a Son of man coming, on the clouds of heaven; when he reached the Ancient One and was presented before him, the one like a Son of man received dominion, glory, and kingship; all peoples, nations, and languages serve him.”
The title Son of Man appears more than 80 times in the Gospels and nearly 100 times in the Old Testament. It seems that Scripture reminds us that this offer of the gift of redemption is being made through and to the one and only creature that sinned against the Creator — humans or as it was said in times past, man.
The second reading from the Book of Revelation spells out who this Son of Man is. “Jesus Christ is the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead and ruler of the kings of the earth. To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood, who has made us into a kingdom, priests for his God and Father, to him be glory and power forever and ever. Amen.” The Book of Revelation offered moral support to the Christians of Asia Minor who endured persecution and death because they would not worship the Roman emperor as the son of god. The faithful of Asia Minor wondered, if we are the people of God, the brothers and sisters of the Lord Jesus Christ, then why are we suffering?
Jesus answers in the Gospel: “‘My kingdom does not belong to this world. If my kingdom did belong to this world, my attendants would be fighting to keep me from being handed over to the Jews. But as it is, my kingdom is not here.’ So Pilate said to him, ‘Then you are a king?’ Jesus answered, ‘You say I am a king. 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.'”
CARRYING OUR CROSS
We don’t live in fear of being arrested for practicing our Catholic faith, and yet we face a subtle form of persecution. Our culture sags under the weight of relativism. This is the view that the individual stands as a reality unto oneself with full authority to determine what is good and true for oneself. Truth and good is strictly a matter of opinion and one person’s opinion is no better or worse than any other opinion. The fog of relativism might be likened to death by a thousand paper cuts.
In response to the indifference of relativism, the Gospel reminds us of the words that Jesus spoke to Pilate: “My kingdom does not belong to this world.”
Perhaps it is inescapable that “everyone who belongs to the truth” and seeks the Kingdom of God will be an outcast in some measure in a society of relativists. Perhaps this is the cross that Catholics are called to carry. Perhaps we carry that cross by fervently practicing the Holy Faith and so witnessing to the truth and good revealed in part now through the church and fully in the second coming of Christ the King.
TIM IRWIN teaches at Peoria Notre Dame High School, where he chairs the Theology Department. He is a member of St. Mark Parish in Peoria.