Gospel – John 18:33b-37

Pilate said to Jesus,
“Are you the King of the Jews?”
Jesus answered, “Do you say this on your own
or have others told you about me?”
Pilate answered, “I am not a Jew, am I?
Your own nation and the chief priests handed you over to me.
What have you done?”
Jesus answered, “My kingdom does not belong to this world.
If my kingdom did belong to this world,
my attendants would be fighting
to keep me from being handed over to the Jews.
But as it is, my kingdom is not here.”
So Pilate said to him, “Then you are a king?”
Jesus answered, “You say I am a king.
For this I was born and for this I came into the world,
to testify to the truth.
Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice.”

Reflection on the Gospel

Let us remember that we are in the holy presence of God.
The Gospel exchange between Herod and Jesus differentiates the consideration of kingship, which significantly informs consideration of the Solemnity of Jesus Christ King of the Universe. A general understanding of kingship is that one receives authority due to inheritance. Herod accrues power by “taking his kingship” through military force and political abuse. For Jesus, kingship originates in receiving, then sharing, power given by God. Jesus points out that no one is rushing to his rescue before Pilot. The focus of “kingship” for Jesus, therefore, is the desire to receive the love and will of God that reigns over hearts so to influence sharing power with a sense of solidarity, not power that differentiates those above and those below, or those who have and those who have not.

The tension played out in the Gospel between Pilate and Jesus reminds us of our daily tension between desiring the pursuit, accrual, and possession of power, rather than graciously receiving, then generously sharing, power so to acknowledge the kingship that God grants to all by way of God creating all. The tension within the exchange between Jesus and Pilate also points to the troubling temptation of assuming a sense of kingship through judgmental self-aggrandizement rather than humility. Pilate ever attempts to judge Jesus and entice Jesus to join him in self-claiming authoritative kingship. Jesus, on the other hand, makes plain that his purpose is not self-aggrandizement but rather pointing to God the Creator (Father) as the one to reign over hearts and thus the way to receive kingship. The kingship of Jesus is not lording self over others judgmentally. Rather it is sharing and sacrificing in solidarity so to uplift the brotherhood and sisterhood of all humanity.

Brother Brian Henderson, F.S.C.
Jeremy House

Saint John Baptist de La Salle – Pray for us.
Live, Jesus, in our hearts – Forever.