Solemnity of Christ the King Reflection
Truth And Compassion In The Unknowing – Solemnity Of Christ The King – (John 18:33-37)
What is Truth? Find Truth, Jesus tells us, and you will have found freedom. We may scream into the night along with the Pharisees, “We are not enslaved… we do not need to be freed.” Yet the terror of history, our mortality, and the great fall of love, exposes us.
Paradox and contradiction confound us, unsettle us … set of teeth on edge. We want to be on the leader board, we want to stand out and be recognised, yet at the same time, we embrace the anonymity of the crowd.
Our mimetic nature demands a scapegoat to hide from our own uncomfortable guilt, yet at the other extreme, we also demand a supreme commander, an ultimate ruler, an Emperor, a Czar, or even our favourite sports star or film star to guide us, to lead us, and most especially, to divert us from our uncertainty and fear.
In the cracks between these contradictions is to be found our greatest weakness, but also our greatest strength. Here we come face-to-face with the hypocrisy that allows us to make such easy bedfellows with all the deadly sins that rob us of joy and peace. But it is also here that we come face-to-face with the great paradox of the power of love that is at the same time totally vulnerable.
The greatest is found among the smallest. Honour and power are found in the powerless one who came to serve; who comes to us as a servant, who comes to us in the simplicity of bread and wine.
In the midst of this great paradox lies also our greatest shame, our rejection of the vulnerability of love for the glitter of imperial power. This is the journey we are on and on and a choice made earlier has distracted us from the truth and beauty within us. It is a choice of darkness over light, the choice of illusion over Truth; and so we demanded… “Give us a king … a king like all the other nations have”.
These kingdoms continue to collide as Jesus and Pilate face each other in the Praetorian. All the glittering splendour and symbols of imperial power that rule the world facing an imprisoned worker rejected and discarded by the religious leaders. Jesus the servant who washes the feet of his disciples. Jesus humbles and shames us with our own flirtation and intoxication with those same glittering splendid symbols of imperial power. How often have we used power to dominate rather than to serve?
Scripture has warned us; Jesus warns us: “look not for Truth, Life, and Light in the imperial courts of earthly power; look not for joy and peace in these places … Look for me among the small, the discarded, the ravaged, the naked, and the poor.” This is where Jesus the Christ, our model, and your guide is to be found.
This is the great contradiction that lies within us. How often do we fall short and must we begin again!
From his throne of earthly power and domination, Pilate is unable to hear Jesus, unable to understand Jesus. Thinking that we know the truth, we cling to the illusion of control that leads to so much sadness and regrets. The glamour and allure of prestige and domination make us deaf to the vulnerability of the voice of love.
It is in communion that we come to see with God’s eyes, to walk with each other as brothers and sisters seeking to hear always the Word of God, who comes to us in the vulnerable, defeated, and rejected: a little child born in an animal stall.
To hear and to encounter this Love for us together as God’s family, yet also for each one of us by name, brings us that peace and that joy that the world cannot give. We begin by letting go of our authority of knowing, stepping into the unknowing, helplessly falling into the well of Love, discarding our words of confining patterns, to feel the caress of the Beloved.
This is our Franciscan calling, to bring faith where there is doubt and hope where there is despair.
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