JESUS’ KINGSHIP IS ONE OF LOVE, JUSTICE AND PEACE!
- I Timothy 2:6 says Jesus “gave himself as a ransom.” A ransom is a price paid to purchase someone’s freedom.
In 1193, the English King Richard I, also known as Richard the Lionheart, was returning from leading a Crusade to the Holy Land. As he returned through Europe, Leopold V captured him in Austria. The Holy Roman Emperor demanded a ransom for Richard’s release. The price was to be 150,000 marks, equal to three tons of silver. This was an enormous ransom demand. But the people of England so loved their king they submitted to extra taxation, and many nobles donated their fortunes for Richard’s release. After many months, the money was raised and King Richard returned to England. That’s where we get the expression, “a king’s ransom.”
But to us, the term “a King’s ransom” could better be applied to the tremendous price Jesus, the King of Kings paid for our sins on the cross. This King wasn’t being ransomed; He paid the ransom so we can be set free. It is the most expensive ransom in the history of mankind.
- In another story that came from the Crusades, Norman Lord Grimbald de Pauncefort was captured by the Saracens. When asked the ransom price for his release the Turkish prince demanded the severed right hand of de Pauncefort’s young bride, Eleanor. In a tremendous act of courage and sacrifice, Lady Eleanor complied, and had her left hand amputated and sent to ransom her husband.
In a sense, that’s what Jesus did for you, but he didn’t just give his hand–he gave his life.
The feast of Christ the King at the end of the liturgical year is always a time for reflection. It is a time to reflect on Christ’s place in our life and his influence on our attitudes, thoughts, choices, actions and behaviours.
In the FIRST READING, we will look at Daniel’s famous description for the Son of Man through the eyes of John the Elder in the book of Revelations.
After we have looked at Daniel’s vision of the Son of Man, we now analyze in the SECOND READING the text from Revelations. These verses equate Jesus with the heavenly Son of Man arriving on the clouds in glory.
What does it mean to be a king? Is it the old model of absolute power? Or is it Christ’s leadership of service? These questions are the essence of Pilate’s and Jesus’ dialogue.
As Roman governor of Judea, Pilate was judge and jury in capital cases. His question was direct: “Do you claim to be king of the area I govern in the name of Caesar?” An affirmative answer would have sealed the fate of Jesus, since he would be branded as a political revolutionary.
But the phrase “King of the Jews” had a spiritual meaning that might have escaped Pilate. To probe Pilate’s understanding, Jesus answers a question with a question: “Who are your witnesses about me?” Dismissing Jesus’ question, Pilate retorts by pressing his point: “What have you done?” In other words, Pilate wants a direct witness from the source himself, not from his accusers.
Jesus responds with a speech about his arena (i.e., “his kingdom”). Jesus’ arena is not that of popular culture or politics; if it was, there would be a bloody revolution.
Pilate still presses the point: “You are a king, aren’t you?” Jesus gives in on a semantic point (“You’re the one who says so, Pilate”) but finally gives Pilate a direct witness: Jesus speaks the truth.
How are the truth Jesus speaks and the truth the “world” speaks different? The truth of the world is transient in nature; it changes with the season and the political landscape. It speaks of ambition and power, of possessions and pleasure. The truth of the world is, at best, shallow.
But the truth Jesus speaks is one of the heart. The truth of Jesus is more than facts; it is one of fidelity. God is “true” to us; that means, he is faithful. He shows us his fidelity through his Son and the power of his Spirit. When we are true to God in return, we “live in truth” (that is, in a relationship). Since God is eternally faithful, God’s truth goes beyond the transient nature of politics, fad, and fashion.
How does your relationship with God touch you in ways the world cannot match? How has the truth of world failed you? How has God’s faithfulness sustained you?
A theologian once said that all revelation is invitation. In other words, all that God reveals to us is how to live with him. This is the reality of Jesus’ kingship. Jesus is Lord, so we might live near him in love. He is King of the World, not over us, but for us and with us.
Bishop Villegas in his book entitled “Jesus In My Heart” said that Jesus is king of hearts in every Christian. He elaborated it by way of comparing it with a deck of cards which carries several images of kings. The first image is the king of clubs. A club is an extension of a violent hand. A club is an extension of a hostile man. Christ cannot be king of clubs because Jesus is not here to sow violence. Jesus is not here to sow hostility. Jesus is here as a king of peace. Jesus is gentle and humble of heart, here, not to sow enmity among us. Jesus is here so that all may be brothers and sisters to one another.
Bishop Villegas continued that Jesus could not be king of spades. A spade is used to throw dirt. Jesus is not here to make our lives dirty. Jesus is here to cleanse us from everything that defiles us. Jesus is not the king of spades because Jesus is not in the grave. Jesus is risen from the dead. Jesus is not king of spades because the business of Jesus is not to make other people dirty, to make people look at the grave dug by spades. The business of Jesus is to give life, hope and purity to us.
Jesus cannot be king of diamonds for he came to bless our poverty. Jesus came to bless our pains and our aches. Jesus is not here to make our lives easier and more comfortable. Jesus is here to give meaning and purpose to our crosses and pains and trials.
But Jesus can only be king of hearts. This is the kind of king that Jesus is. He is the king of the universe because he is the king of hearts.
For us Christians, let us stop our gossiping, intrigues, destruction of one another, our intention to take revenge on others. Let us not be Christians of spades, clubs or diamonds; let us be Christians of ‘the heart’. So let us make a loyalty check up with our hearts and see if Jesus is there.
Remember, this World is not our home, but if we lose sight of this reality we can start to live as though this world is our home.
And when we do, we do just as we encourage others to do when they come to our home: we make ourselves comfortable! We busy ourselves with enjoying all the wonderful things available to us. These are a few examples of how we spend our lives with the things that have no lasting value. Our hearts are in the wrong place. Far too often we seek comfort more than Christ. Unfortunately, this is what we have begun to treasure in our lives.
When we’ve made ourselves comfortable, we go to great lengths to avoid discomfort. When this happens, we often cease to live as effective subjects of our king.
1 We do not take great steps of faith because we fear risk, and so we never see how God can provide far beyond what we could have imagined.
2 We only half-heartedly fight against sin and temptation because anything more requires great effort, and so we stunt our spiritual growth.
3 We do not stand for truth because we cannot stand being labeled as narrow-minded, or bigoted, or as being on the wrong side of history.
4 We use up the resources God has given us to bless ourselves instead of others, because we have bought into the consumerism of our age, and our wants have become needs.
As we close this Church Year and begin a new one next week, let us endeavour to refocus our lives on Christ!
“Christ, yesterday and today, the Beginning and the End, the Alpha and the Omega.
To Christ belongs all time and all the ages;
To Christ belongs glory and dominion now and forever. Amen.”
Fr. Gaspar Fernandes, OFM Cap.