“Are you the King of the Jews?”, Pilate asks Jesus in today’s Gospel on this Solemnity of Christ the King.
The answer depends on what you mean by “king.”
Pilate and Herod, and a whole lot of other people, were nervous about all this talk about Jesus as King of the Jews, because they understood kingship in terms of worldly, political power.
But Jesus’ answer to Pilate has nothing to do with worldly power. “My kingdom does not belong to this world,” Jesus explains. When Pilate prods him, “Then you are a king,” Jesus responds: “For this I was born and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth.”
It is a response that reminds us that the kingship we celebrate today is not a political one. As Pope Benedict once explained, Jesus is a new kind of king. “This king does not break the people with an iron rod (cf. Ps 2:9) – he rules form the Cross, and does so in an entirely new way. Universality is achieved through the humility of communion in faith; this king rules by faith and love, and in no other way.” Thus, today’s feast, he suggested, “is not a feast of those who are subjugated, but a feast of those who know that they are in the hands of the one who writes straight on crooked lines.”
Today’s solemnity marks the end of a liturgical year. It is a good time engage in an examination of our allegiance to this king. Do I faithfully testify to the truth? To I follow the example of faith and love?