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Thirty-fourth Sunday – Christ the King – Year B – Ordinary Time
Readings: Dan 7:13-14; Rev 1:5-8; Jn 18:33b-37.
Reading 1: (Dan 7:13-14):
As the visions during the night continued, I saw
one like a Son of man coming,
on the clouds of heaven;
when he reached the Ancient One
and was presented before him,
the one like a Son of man received dominion, glory, and kingship;
all peoples, nations, and languages serve him.
His dominion is an everlasting dominion
that shall not be taken away,
his kingship shall not be destroyed.
Reading 2: (Rev 1:5-8):
Jesus Christ is the faithful witness,
the firstborn of the dead and ruler of the kings of the earth.
To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood,
who has made us into a kingdom, priests for his God and Father,
to him be glory and power forever and ever. Amen.
Behold, he is coming amid the clouds,
and every eye will see him,
even those who pierced him.
All the peoples of the earth will lament him.
“I am the Alpha and the Omega, ” says the Lord God,
“the one who is and who was and who is to come, the almighty.”
Gospel: (Jn 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.”
Written by: Fr. Anthony Dinh M. Tien, O.P.
I. THEME: Christ is the king of truth.
We desire to know the truth but are surrounded by worldly deception: from fake things to people, and even gods. We want to be treated with real love; but human hearts are so hard to know. Many people solemnly promised one day and forget their promise few days later; material profits cause people to change so quickly. How can we know the truth and receive a real love?
It is fortunate for us because all the readings of the last Sunday of the year show us the origin of the truth; we can’t find anywhere else, except in Jesus Christ, the God’s Word. In the first reading, the prophet Daniel reported a Son of Man received dominion, glory and kingship from God. All people of the earth must obey his dominion. In the second reading, the author of the Book of Revelation confirmed that Christ is the everlasting king, even at the moment on the cross when he sacrificed his life for people. All those who killed and denied Christ shall strike their hearts and lament when they saw his reign coming in glory. In the Gospel, St. John reported the dialogue between Jesus and Pilate, the Roman pontiff, about the difference between heavenly and earthly king. Pilate understood that Jesus wanted to be an earthly king as most of the Jews do while Jesus revealed to him that he is the heavenly king, the king of the truth; whoever listens and lives according to the truth is a citizen of the heavenly kingdom, under Christ’s dominion.
1/ Reading I: He shall rule for ever; his kingdom is without end and his people shall be sheep only–no goats.
1.1/ The Father set him king to rule forever: The prophet Daniel reported the vision of the inauguration in heaven for a very special man who has an appearance of a man; but comes from heaven. When he reached the Ancient One, he received dominion, glory, and kingship from this One; all nations and peoples of every language serve him.”
The Son of Man is Jesus Christ and the Ancient One is God the Father. The vision wanted to stress Christ’s dominion as the king over all God’s creation. Before this vision is the vision of the four wild beasts which represent for the quick passing of the four worldly empires: Babylon, Persia, Greek and Rome.
1.2/ His kingship and kingdom shall remain forever: His dominion is an everlasting dominion that shall not be taken away; his kingship shall not be destroyed.
People desire what has a lasting value. In the political area, they desire to have a best leader who shall govern them many years; but their desire can’t be achieved because all worldly empires keep changing and well-known leaders passed away. There are three main reasons why people’s desire can’t be achieved: Firstly, kings or worldly leaders are imperfect, many of them are unjust and didn’t care for people. They used people’s trust to hoard up material gains for themselves. Secondly, worldly kingdom always change hands: from one reign to another, from one empire to the next. When they try hard to find a leader who cares for people, this leader is assassinated or died early. Thirdly, people in the kingdom are both good and bad, both sheep and goats; therefore, it is very hard to govern them.
To the Christians, the perfect kingdom which is heaven can only be found in the next life where all three above conditions can be found: Firstly, the only king is Christ. He shall conquer all nations, and all worldly leaders must submit to him. He shall gather all people for God, govern them in their mind. He shall rule in truth, justice and love. Secondly, his kingdom which is heaven shall remain forever. Thirdly, his people are Christians: they are sheep which mean all the righteous; the goats which are the unrighteous shall be eliminated forever. The righteous shall live forever. The conditions to belong to his kingdom are to listen to the truth and to believe in him.
2/ Reading II: Christ deserves to be our king because he died for us.
2.1/ What Christ has done for people.
(1) Christ is the source of every grace and peace: The author of Revelation mentioned three titles of Christ and they are related to each other. Firstly, Christ is the faithful witness: All that wrote about him are fulfilled and he witnessed his loyalty to God by accepting even death to redeem people’s sins. Secondly, he is the firstborn of the dead: Before him, there is none who is raised from dead and lives forever. He is the first who died, resurrected and lives forever. Thirdly, he is the ruler of the kings of the earth, all worldly leaders must obey him: According to St. Paul, because of Christ’s obedience and his accepting of death on the cross, “God greatly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend, of those in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Phi 2:9-11). Because of his death, people receive grace upon grace. If people believe and live according to Christ’s teaching, they shall find the true peace for their mind.
(2) Christ has made us into a kingdom and priests: He makes people belonging to the heavenly kingdom by pouring out his blood on the cross to purify their sins and to reconcile them with God. We need to pay attention on the author’s use of two participles in this sentence: The participle “loving” was used in present because Christ always loves people while the second participle “freed” was used in past because Christ’s pouring out of his blood happened only one time on Golgotha; it has power to purify all human sins.
In the Old Testament, only the high priest can enter the holy of the holies one a year to meet God, all people must remain at their place. When Jesus gave up his spirit on the cross, the curtain which separated people with the most holy place was torn in two, so that from now on, people can directly pray to God. Through Baptism, the faithful have the universal priesthood to become “priests for his God and Father, to him be glory and power forever (and ever). Amen.”
2.2/ They shall see the one who they killed or denied: The author reported the vision of Christ’s Second Coming to judge humankind, “Behold, he is coming amid the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him. All the peoples of the earth will lament him. Yes. Amen.”
This happened not only for the Roman soldiers and the Jews who condemned Jesus to be killed but also for all people through generations who refused to believe in Christ. They shall beat their breast and lament because they denied the one who brings salvation for them. They have to lament because Christ is the truth. He is like a mirror; when people look on him, they shall see that all of their lies and secret hidings are revealed. People used to think that no one can see through what they hide inside to deceive God and others; but all their thoughts and deeds shall be seen by all in the Judgment Day.
Lastly, the author of Revelation listed three of God’s name: Firstly, He is “the alpha and the omega”: These are two first and last of Greek’s alphabet; he wanted to say that God is the beginning because of Him, all were created, and the end because if all creatures want to find their meanings, they must orient to Him. Secondly, He is “the one who is and who was and who is to come”: To God, there is no past or future, all are in present and continous to Him. He is never changed like human beings. Lastly, He is “the Almighty” because He can do all things and there is none which is impossible to Him.
3/ Gospel: “I was born and came to this world is to witness for the truth. Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice.”
3.1/ The wicked plan of the Sandherin: To understand Christ’s conversation with the Roman pontiff, Pilate, we must understand the historical background behind his death. People in the Sandherin, the highest court of the Jews have no right to kill Jesus before they are under Roman governance. Therefore, they seized and handed him for the Roman Pontiff. Before he can condemn Jesus, he needs to know what sin that Jesus committed. At the high priest court, the Jews condemned Jesus because he blasphemed (Jn 19:7), professed himself as the Son of God. Later, when they knew that Pilate shall not condemn Jesus because of a religious reason, they organized a meeting to find a political reason to put pressure on Pilate (Jn 19:6). They accused Jesus of called himself as “the king of the Jews;” whoever calls himself a king, that one is against Caesar (Jn 19:12).
3.2/ The dialogue between Jesus and Pilate: The Roman Pontiff concerns only one thing whether Jesus confesses himself a king to have a reason to condemn him. Therefore, he called him and asked, “Are you the King of the Jews?” Jesus knew the wicked intentions of the Sandherin and Pilate, he answered, “Do you say this on your own or have others told you about me?” Jesus reminded Pilate of his duty as the officer which must carefully inspect before condemnation, not just hearing of others’ accusation and making a condemnation. To avoid of answering, 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?”
3.3/ Jesus explained for Pilate about his kingdom and governance: Jesus isn’t afraid of facing the truth or avoid of answering. The Jews correctly understood about the Messiah shall come to govern them in justice and truth; but they didn’t understand of his way to conquer people. Jesus explained for Pilate to understand the two important things:
(1) His kingdom doesn’t belong to this world: The Jews believe that when the Messiah comes, he shall use his mighty power to conquer all foreign powers to liberate people and to govern them. Jesus corrects this wrong understanding, “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.”
(2) Jesus’ way to win over his people: Hearing of Jesus’ explanation about his true kingdom, 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.”
In this second conversation, Jesus affirmed with Pilate that he is the king, not as a worldly king, but a heavenly king; and his way of conquering people is to persuade people to listen and to live according to the truth. Pilate didn’t understand Jesus’ explanation or he had no courage to stand for the truth, he handed Jesus for people to crucify him on the cross.
III. APPLICATION IN LIFE:
– Only Christ can give meaning and happiness to our life because he is given all power, glory and kingship by God. We should invite him in our mind to be our king to guide, to govern and to protect us. To be his citizen, we must learn how to love like him.
– The world is full of lies and wicked traps to deceive us. The truth can only be found in Christ because he is God’s word. If we want to learn the truth, we must come and learn from him.