Christ the King
Once a year we celebrate the Solemnity of Christ the King. Today’s liturgy is proclaiming and reaffirming his universal kingship. However, the whole notion of Christ’s kingship is rather confusing. Did that person, Jesus, want to be a king? Remember that when the devil wanted to make him a king, Jesus rejected the devil’s temptation. When the people also wanted to make him a king, he went off to the wilderness. When Pilate asked him: “Now tell me, are you a king?” he answered: “That is what you say.” And he added, paraphrasing his statement: “Yes, I am a king, but not from here, not from this world, not like you. My power is different. Were it not, my followers would have fought to keep me from being handed over.”
Jesus’ power is, indeed, not from here, not from this world. The power that is ‘from here’ comes from what somebody has. It comes from money, wealth, material possessions. The power that is ‘from here’ comes from somebody’s social status. It comes from function, role, title, designation, privilege. The power that is ‘from here’ comes from what somebody can do. It comes from political influence and economic domination. The world gives power to the rich, the powerful, the popular, the successful, the influential.
Jesus’ power is not from this world. This world is often blind and corrupt, distorted and split apart. This world does not respect people because they are people. It respects people because of their money and wealth, status and popularity, power and influence. The world does not respect people because they are people… It respects people because they have the title of Senator or Congressman, General or Chairperson, Bishop or Monsignor or Reverend Father. The world does not respect people because they are people… It respects people because they do more important things, they are more needed, they have more prestigious roles, they are first among equals. Who respects and values the have-nots – the poor, the insignificant, the powerless – the very people mentioned in today’s gospel passage? The world lacks interest in people, in its people.
When Jesus was asked who was the most important in the kingdom of God, he called a small, smelly, unwashed street boy over, and said: “This one.” This Jesus, this Christ – our universal king – shows us that our whole attitude should change, that our world should change in a radical way. He shows us that we should respect all people for the simple fact that they are his Father’ children, they are his brothers and sisters.
And because they are his brothers and sisters, he knows them by name. Kilala ni Hesus ang pangalan ng mga batang lansangan, kasambahay, maliliit na manggagawa, magsasaka, mangingisda, jeepney drivers, squatters, taong-grasa. Kilala ni Hesus ang mga ito sa kanilang mga pangalan dahil siya ang pastol na nakakikilala sa bawat isang tupa niya. Naghahanap sa mga nawawala at nagwawala; nagdadala sa kanila sa luntiang pastulan; gumagamot sa mga sugatan at maykapansanan.
That is his power, that is his kingdom: knowing his sheep, knowing his brothers and sisters by name. He is not interested in their bank accounts, their cars, their mansions, their titles, their achievements, their social status, their degrees. Indeed, Jesus knows us by name. And he loves us, his brothers and sisters, not for what we have, nor for what we can do, nor for what others say about us. He loves us for who we are: that is, as God’s beloved children. And this is how we should behave. And that is why the world should change.
This is how Christ the King liberates us from the lies and deceits of the world. This is how he reigns on us – only with the power of truth, justice, peace and love. This is how he enables us to see the world as it should be: a place where God truly reigns… a humanly inhabited world where there is justice, equality, brotherhood, sisterhood… a world where people will not only be with each other, but for each other.
This seems like an illusion only – that can only happen in a dream – especially when we look at the present situation of our society. Parang pinagtatawanan lang tayo ng mga makapangyarihang naghahari-harian sa mundo sa pangarap nating ito. This world and its ‘kings’ (and ‘queens’) will not have the last word. If they were to have the last, then there would be no hope. Jesus will have the last word for he is the King. And that is why there is hope for everybody. There is hope in a final restoration and liberation.