Col. 1:12-20; Jn. 18:33-37
Today is the
feast of Christ the King. It was
introduced by Pope Pius XI in 1925, in response to the rise of secular nations
during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. A contemporary, G. K. Chesterson said, “When people
give up God, the government becomes God.”
Something like this was happening then, and happens now. Pius XI, in his encyclical, affirms classic
Church teaching. All authority comes
from God, whether sacred or temporal, and must be respected. The truth is determined not by the will of a
dictator or by the majority opinion, but by the divine and natural laws. St. John Paul II, in our own day, said,
“Everything is subject to evangelization,” even government.
In our Gospel
today, Jesus says He has come to bear witness to the truth. He has been handed over by Caiaphas to
Pilate. Pilate questions him about the
only accusation which would have been of interest to the Roman governor, “Are
you the king of the Jews.” There is
drama here. Jesus gives Pilate the
opportunity to speak for himself, “Are you saying this of yourself, or have
been others telling you about me?”
Pilate demurs, and Jesus unfolds in a few words the kind of king he
is: “My kingdom is not of this world. .
. . I have come to testify to the truth.”
If the Gospel were to continue for one
more line, Pilate responds, “What is truth?”
He gives voice to the perennial secular view of relativity. Archbishop Sheen points out the irony that
Pilate’s name, the one who asked, “What is truth,” appears now in the center of
the Creed, “suffered under Pontius Pilate,” where in is professed the whole
truth of our faith.
In the Epistle
today, St. Paul tells us about the truth, the truth about God, the truth about
Christ. In this hymn to the Savior, He
is the image of the invisible God. And
the words “fullness” and “all” appear and are repeated: all fullness resides in Him; all things were
created by Him; and at the center is the cross, whereby He reconciles all
things to Himself. We want to say that
there are many powers in the world, but none greater than that of Christ and
Christ crucified and risen from the dead.
But He is not just one of many powers.
He is the unique Son of God. Not
only does no other Mediator exist, but no other Mediator is necessary.
It is always
wonderful when we can recognize ourselves in the Scriptures. The Epistle hymn tells us He is the firstborn
of the dead. His resurrection is the
cause of our resurrection on the last day.
It says He is Head of the Body, the Church. We are incorporated in Him by our faith and
baptism. He has ascended. Part of us is already in heaven. He has shown His kingship by His cross, which
we celebrate in this and every Mass, overcoming all things. He is the Head of a new humanity in the
Church, and the center of the Kingdom, which is both present now, and to come
in its fullness.