1st Reading: Daniel 7:13-14; 2nd Reading: Revelation 1:5-8; Gospel: John 18:33-37.
THEME: CHRIST’S SOVEREIGNTY: A KINGDOM OF LOVE AND HUMBLE SERVICE.
Historically speaking, many kings or leaders have risen in this world with their respective kingdoms. These kings reigned with all their mighty power, and became so powerful that just their mere spoken words could cause mayhem in the society.
For instance, kings like Pharaoh, Herod, Nebuchadnezzar, Ahab and Jezebel, Antiochus Epiphanes, Adolf Hitler, Idi Amin and so on, were among the notable kings or leaders that reigned in the past. These kings or leaders were proud, autocratic, brutal, inhumane, and thus, committed many unjust and abominable acts, which made them to be feared by many people and nations. During their earthly reigns, they commanded so much authority that their instructions were strictly enforced in a manner that they would never be disobeyed by anyone, but attracted so much severe consequences whenever anyone violated or breached them, to the extent of subjecting the defaulters or victims to painful or excruciating deaths.
Unfortunately, these kings or leaders thought that they would reign forever. It did not cross their minds that one day, they would meet their waterloo and their kingdoms would collapse; neither did they remember that death awaits every human person living under the face of the earth. Surprisingly, when they died, their kingdoms also died and faded away with them, and could only be remembered as memories as the occasions arise.
In the FIRST READING, Prophet Daniel received a divine revelation of the rise and fall of different kings that had reigned on earth, and the subsequent enthronement of the King of kings, who was given dominion and Glory; that all peoples, nations and languages should adore and serve Him. The one whose dominion is everlasting, which shall not pass away, and His Kingdom can never be destroyed (Daniel 7:14).
In today’s GOSPEL, Pilate became astonished when he heard of the chief priests’ accusation about Jesus’ claim to be King, and their demand for His crucifixion. He was also dismayed when Jesus Christ stated categorically that His Kingship is not of this world’s type, which thrives in violence and tyranny, but a heavenly type that fosters love and peace. He also declared the real nature of His mission in the world, which is to bear witness to the truth and everyone who is of the truth listens to His voice (John 18:36-37). These statements made it impossible for Pilate to comprehend and marry the situations presented before him by the Jews.
Moreover, as a governor Pilate was a failure, he was indicted three times due to his bad records. He seemed to have begun with a complete contempt and lack of sympathy for the Jews, and was too proud to involve himself in what he regarded as Jewish squabbles and superstitions. Hence, the Jews blackmailed him into assenting to the death of Christ, because his previous mistakes had made it impossible for him both to defy the Jews and to keep his position.
Undoubtedly, it is imperative to note that, most kings are always afraid to witness anybody that comes up to challenge their kingship, more so, to claim to be the new king, even when the current king is still alive. For when kings’ wrath is stirred by fear for their crowns, it is a great and inextinguishable wrath.
This was evident during the horrible tragedy in Bethlehem, when Herod the Great massacred the innocent children because he heard that a new king was born (Matthew 2:16-18). Even in our contemporary society, many leaders who are overambitious and power conscious, can even go extra mile to annihilate anyone they see as their rival; either directly or indirectly.
However, our Lord Jesus Christ – the King of kings and the Lord of lords, came into this world, not in the manner of the earthly kings mentioned above, but as a compassionate and humble servant who actually came to demonstrate the kind of Kingship that pleases the Almighty God. A King that rules with love, peace, humility, obedience, truth, holiness, mercy, justice, equity and fairness. A spiritual Kingdom which begins here on earth (the Church) but has its completion and perfection in heaven.
Moreover, because the Jews had a prolonged domination and oppression by successive foreign powers, they anticipated a political messiah who would forcefully revolt against their oppressors. That was why they misunderstood the word “kingdom” to mean only earthly authority that can dominate, subjugate and victimize any oppositions. But for Jesus Christ, kingdom means “humble service.” No wonder, despite being the King of kings, yet, He obediently humbled Himself even unto death in order to gain salvation for humankind. Now, He reigns supreme forever and ever, and at the mention of His name, every knee must bow and every tongue must confess that Jesus Christ is the Lord (Philippians 2:6-11).
The SECOND READING gives us a clear description of the true identity of Jesus Christ: “The Alpha and Omega who is and who was and who is to come (Revelation 1:8).” He loves us and has freed us from the bondage of sins by His blood, and has made us a kingdom, priests to His God and Father. He established His messianic Kingdom, in which we, His subjects, are given the power and the privilege of serving God with true service. Behold, He will return in glory and majesty to demand a reckoning from each one, and every eye will see Him, and all tribes of the earth will wail on account of Him. Consequently, each person will have to stand before His tribunal one day to give account of his or her works on earth.
Finally, Christ exhibited the nature of humility even when He is fully aware that He is King and very powerful, and that an utterance of His Word can challenge any human kingship. But, amidst all these He remained calm as well as became an advocate of service to humankind.
Therefore as Christians, let us reflect on these simple but pertinent questions:
- Can we emulate Christ’s style of Kingship by becoming humble servants to our subjects instead of being tyrannical or inhumane in our leadership positions or dispositions?
- Can we consistently and sincerely foster justice, equity and fairness in our society?
- Can we promote other people’s good works, especially those that are talented in a particular field instead of being jealous or indignant when they are progressing more than us?
- Can we humbly acknowledge those higher than us in one way or the other instead of assassinating their character directly or indirectly?
- Since death awaits us one day, can we daily demonstrate genuine love to our fellow human beings by being merciful and compassionate to them?
Therefore, may the Almighty God, through the Power of the Holy Spirit, grant you the spirit of humility, selfless service to humanity, and increase your faith and love for God and your fellow human beings, so that at the end, you shall reign with Christ in His Kingdom, this is my prayer through Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen!!!
Peace of Christ be with you…
Rev. Fr. Ben Okala, C.S.Sp.