By Fr. Aldo s.x.
We cannot know Jesus apart from the idea of the kingdom of God; we cannot be true Christians today without taking in consideration the kingdom of God; fittingly we are called to celebrate the solemnity of Christ the King.
The God of Jesus Christ is the God of the kingdom, meaning to say, a God that is concerned and involved in human history. The God of the Bible is a God whose plan is to establish his kingdom here in this world.
The first and second readings of today attest to the fact that the kingdom of God has its starting point in the world – after a long time of domination by other kingdoms – yet not without lots of struggles and in the midst of contradictions. The Gospel, in its turn, clarifies what Christ’s kingship consists of: a spirit of service. The word “kingdom” is a dangerous one to deal with because with it we can interpret two different and opposing realities. That is why Jesus affirms repeatedly: “My kingdom is not from this world.”
The great theologian Gustavo Gutiérrez has this to say about this topic: “We can easily fall into the temptation of interpreting this statement as a reference to a kingdom on an exclusively religious and spiritual level, with little or no incidence in the temporal realm, in concrete history. However such an interpretation does not correspond to the Gospel as a whole. An earlier text from John can help us understand the present text. In chapter eight, in the midst of a harsh controversy with the Pharisees, Jesus tells them: ‘I am not of this world’ (v.23). The terms in the original Greek language are exactly the same. There is a distance and even a rupture, and Jesus wants to point it out. However, it is not between what is religious and temporal but rather between domination and service. Jesus’ kingdom is unlike the one that Pilate knows, a kingdom of arbitrariness, privileges, and domination. Jesus’ kingdom is a kingdom of love, justice, and service (Sharing the Word Through the Liturgical Year, Claretian Publications, Bangalore, 2004, pp. 269)
It is interesting to notice that only now that Jesus is arrested, powerless and alone he admits being a king. This never happened before, not even when he was surrounded by euphoric followers who sang hosanna during the triumphant entry into Jerusalem.
The Jewish rabbis used to tell a story about a man who lit a candle during a very dark night, but the wind put it off; so he lit it a second and a third time just to see it being put off again and again; so he said “I will not lit the candle anymore; I will just wait for the sunrise.” In a similar way, Israel was set free from Egypt but the flames of freedom were successively put off by the Babylonians and other kingdoms to the point that he said: “I will just wait for the kingdom of the Messiah.”
The Jews are still waiting for that light. But we Christians know that that light is Jesus of Nazareth. What are our proofs so to support this claim? They are the communities all around the world that are very much alive and founded on the same spirit of love, service and fraternal sharing that was given by Jesus.
Happy Feast of Christ the King to all!