Saint Thomas of Canterbury, Bolton

Stay with us, Lord, on our journey

Cycle B

Feast of Christ the King


 John 18. 33-37

“My kingdom is not of this world”

Implicit in these words of Jesus is the fact that he is a king, and Pilate is not slow in recognising this: “So you are a king then?” he asks. “Yes,” says Jesus, “I am a king”. But not like the kings, princes and presidents of this world. Not a king of power and pomp, he does not seek to dominate or impose, to conquer or coerce; he is not remote and does not demand privilege or protection. In fact, quite the opposite: he stands before Pilate, a prisoner, alone and powerless. And yet he is not intimidated. Somehow, for all Pilate’s protestation of power, Jesus appears to be the one in charge of the situation.

He goes on to announce that “I was born for this, I came into the world for this: to bear witness to the truth.” He identifies his kingship with “bearing witness to the truth”, but what does that mean? With Pilate, we might well ask what is the truth to which Jesus bears witness? It is this: the unbounded love that the Father wishes to lavish upon the whole of humanity; that undeserved, unconditional love he asks us to first accept and then reflect; that reign of God’s love in our hearts and in our lives, to be expressed in love of God and of neighbour. That is where his kingdom lies. It is “not of this world” in that it does not rest on the power structures of this world.

In everything Jesus had done up to this point, in everything he had taught, in the way he had lived, in all these ways he had painted a picture of a kingdom that is “not of this world”. He had presented a kingdom where the humble shall be exalted and the poor given preference. He had proclaimed a kingdom of truth and justice, of mutual love and respect and of service of others, a kingdom of reconciliation and healing, a kingdom which uniquely offers peace to the world. He had taught that how people treat each other matters more than where they come from or what they look like, or what they possess. Today, Christ the Universal King invites us afresh to live under his kingship.