Homily for the Solemnity of Christ the King - Year B - Jn. 18:33-37
Father Daniel Meynen
"Pilate entered the praetorium again and called Jesus, and said to him, "Are you the King of the Jews?" Jesus answered, "Do you say this of your own accord, or did others say it to you about me?" Pilate answered, "Am I a Jew? Your own nation and the chief priests have handed you over to me; what have you done?" Jesus answered, "My kingship is not of this world; if my kingship were of this world, my servants would fight, that I might not be handed over to the Jews; but my kingship is not from the world." Pilate said to him, "So you are a king?" Jesus answered, "You say that I am a king. For this I was born, and for this I have come into the world, to bear witness to the truth. Every one who is of the truth hears my voice." "
"Pilate entered the praetorium again and called Jesus, and said to him, 'Are you the King of the Jews?' "
To crown the liturgical year as it comes to a close, the Church celebrates a special feast instituted by Pope Pius XI (December 11, 1925): the feast of Christ the King. At the time of its institution, this feast was celebrated on the last Sunday of October. Since the liturgical reform of the Council of Vatican II, it is celebrated, more suitably, on the last Sunday of the liturgical year: that is, today.
On this last Sunday, the Church intends to crown the entire life of the Mystical Body of Christ which the liturgical year symbolizes periodically, year after year. It is a crown of glory which is placed upon the Head of that great Body which is the Church: it is Christ in person, Head of the Church, who receives glory and honor in an ultimate crowning! The great King of the Universe is crowned with glory and majesty by those who are his brothers and sisters in the Holy Spirit, so that He who redeemed them from their countless sins is forever honored by a holy and immaculate Body (cf. Eph. 5:27)!
"Jesus answered, 'Do you say this of your own accord, or did others say it to you about me?' Pilate answered, 'Am I a Jew? Your own nation and the chief priests have handed you over to me; what have you done?' Jesus answered, 'My kingship is not of this world; if my kingship were of this world, my servants would fight, that I might not be handed over to the Jews; but my kingship is not from the world.' "
Jesus is the King of the Jews: he belongs to a body of men and women of a single race, that which God himself has chosen since Abraham. Like any king, Jesus is not alone. For a king, alone, is no longer a king: over whom or what does such a king reign? No, Jesus is not alone. Nonetheless, Jesus, before Pilate, seems alone, delivered up to abandonment and contempt: his People, the Jewish people, denied him... But this is only how it appears. In fact, Jesus is not at all alone. For his kingdom, and thus the body of men and women over whom he reigns, is not of this world: his kingdom is not visible to the eyes of the men who do not have faith in him, the Savior of the world!
Ever since the Incarnation of the Word of God in Mary, the new People of God have been born in the Holy Spirit. Already, with Jesus having hardly been conceived in the womb of his mother, the new People of God, the Church, existed in Mary, the first of all believers, the model of all of that great Body which, mysteriously, invisibly, constitutes the Temple and the Dwelling of the King of the Universe. Little by little, day after day, year after year, the Body of Christ appeared to the eyes of the world, manifesting itself most of the time, hiding at other times, but always existing in the Spirit of God. Throughout the ages, Pilates and Judases have persecuted the Church, but this has never prevented the Body of Christ from growing and from manifesting the greatness of its King, Jesus, before the eyes of the entire universe.
"Pilate said to him, 'So you are a king?' Jesus answered, 'You say that I am a king. For this I was born, and for this I have come into the world, to bear witness to the truth. Every one who is of the truth hears my voice.' "
Today, more than ever, the Church is here to render to Jesus Christ the honor which is due him as King of the Universe. For the Church, in the name of Jesus, speaks the Truth to the entire world! Carrying on the Work and the Mission of Christ, the Church proclaims to all men and women the message of Salvation found in the Gospel: thus the Church renders to the King of the Universe the honor and the glory which belong to him. Each time, throughout the day, that we testify to our fidelity to the Law of God, it is the Kingdom of God we proclaim: to live a holy life, to exhibit exemplary conduct at work or at home, all of this serves to obtain for the Lord a Kingship that is ever more glorious!
Without question, the greatest honor that we can give to our King and Lord is to give thanks to him in his Eucharist. It is there that we say, through the voice of the priest: "Through Him, with Him, in Him, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, all glory and honor is yours, almighty Father, for ever and ever." All of the glory of the Father fully reflects back upon the Son, and it even reflects upon us all, we who are sons in the Son! For, finally, if God claims for his Son the glory and honor of kingship, it is not for himself, for only God can obtain for himself a glory that is truly worthy of him. Thus, it is more for us, his creatures, that God wants the glory of kingship, and first of all - one might say, almost exclusively - for Mary, the creature the Father loves from all eternity in his Son Jesus!