Jesus Rules with Love by Rev. Paul Grankauskas
Reprinted with permission of "The Arlington Catholic Herald"
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John wrote to show that Christ was
the Messiah, the Divine Son of God.
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."
There are many signs that the end is near. That we have celebrated Thanksgiving is a sign that November's end is near.
That the trees are bare, darkness falls earlier and Christmas decorations are up in malls and shopping centers are signs that the calendar year ends soon. That this is the 34th week in Ordinary Time is a sign that the Church year is almost at an end.
On this day, we hail Christ as Our Lord and King. By what right does He claim these titles? Yes, He was born of David's royal line, but as He tells Pontius Pilate, His kingdom is not of this world. He did not come to be a political leader, ruling the world by force. He came as a Redeemer and Savior, seeking to rule with truth and love. The truth is, as our Redeemer and Savior, He conquered no earthly enemy but broke the power of Satan, bruising the head of the serpent as it was foretold in Genesis. Though He was like us in all things except for sin, He freely accepted the death, the wages of sin. In rising again, He conquered sin and death, establishing His power on earth. Following His ascension into heaven, He was seated at His Father's right hand, acting as mediator between God and man. In short, He is hailed as Lord and King because all authority in heaven and earth is His and all things rightly belong to Him.
Yet even as we contemplate this glorious image of our heavenly King, we are presented with the image of the suffering Christ, bloodied and beaten, crowned with thorns. He could have commanded the angels to deliver Him from the cross, and yet He freely submits. Such is the humility of our King, who came to serve as the ransom for our souls. With all the power at His disposal, He could rule through fear and intimidation. He chooses to lay claim to our obedience, our hearts and minds, with love.
What a contrast to someone like Pontius Pilate. He was sent to govern Judea and maintain order. He tried to do so with force. On one occasion, he raided the Temple treasury to gain money for the construction of an aqueduct. This led to rioting and the death of several Jews at the hands of Roman troops.
On another occasion, with blatant disrespect for those he came to serve, Pilate led his troops into Jerusalem, the image of the roman emperor adorning his soldier's standards. As the Romans considered the emperor divine, this was an affront to the Jews who worshipped God alone. In the end, Pilate's relationship with the Jews was truly an uneasy one.
What Pontius Pilate, for all his military might and position, could not do, Our Lord does. Through the work of the Holy Spirit, He unites people of every race and tongue into one body, conquering the world not with brute force, but with truth and love.
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