Every time we complete the cycle of the liturgical year, there is a seamless blending from the old year into the new year: so, just as this week we hear of the King who is to come, next week, we begin a New Year and the Season of Advent by more meditation on the end of time, and the One who is to come again, as he once came among us. This feast affirms that Christ is King, that he is Judge, that he is Ruler of the kings of the earth. By his own words we know that this is true, as he stands before Pilate and says, “Yes, I am a king.” But his kingship is different: it is not of the same kind as earthly kings, whose empires fade and pass away. His kingship is eternal, and holy lasting until the end of time. Through his love for us, we share in this sovereignty – this holiness – as priests and kings who “serve his God and Father”. We end our year in simple, awe filled praise of the One who is, who was, and who is to come ‑ the Almighty.
The theme of the kingship of Christ should not be misunderstood. Jesus is not king in an earthly sense. The acclamations of the crowds on Palm Sunday and the enthusiastic endorsement of the disciples that Jesus is the Messiah might mislead us. Jesus is king; Jesus is Messiah, because he is the anointed one of God, who comes to do the will of God.
For the evangelist John, Christ’s kingship is revealed above all on the cross. In the dialogue with Pilate in the Fourth Gospel Jesus points Pilate in the right direction: his kingdom is not an earthly one. He came ‘to bear witness to the truth’. Those who seek the truth are members of his kingdom, which our liturgy today describes in the Preface as ‘a kingdom of truth and life, a kingdom of holiness. We remember that The Kingdom of God exists in every home where parents and children love each other. It exists in every region and country that cares for its weak and vulnerable. It exists in every parish that reaches out to the needy. The Kingdom of God happens whenever someone feeds a hungry person, or shelters a homeless person, or shows care to a neglected person. It happens whenever we overturn an unjust law, or correct an injustice, or avert a war.
It happens whenever people join in the struggle to overcome poverty, to erase ignorance, to pass on the faith. The Kingdom of God is in the past (in the life and work of Jesus of Nazareth); it is in the present (in the work of the Church and in the efforts of many others to create a world of goodness and justice); it is in the future (reaching its completion in the age to come). May we build the kingdom of God where we are called to be in the here and now of our lives and living. We don’t know how many people witnessed the death of Jesus in Jerusalem. We know that some of those who did were delighted to have him out of the way at last. Others were heartbroken at the death of a truly good man and the shattering into pieces of a dream for something better, a new world order in which love and service would triumph over oppression and hatred. The majority probably just went about their business and reflected that really it is wiser just to keep your head down and say nothing. We can be sure that nobody there on Good Friday thought they were witnessing the death of Christ the Universal King. His kind of kingship has to be learned and not in palaces nor in schools of diplomacy but among the poor and needy and those whom the world has forgotten. For our king is the servant of the poor and we only belong to his court when we do likewise become servants of the poor.