The annual celebration of the Feast of Christ the King often has a triumphal ring to it. Jesus is given dominion and kingship by the Father because the Lord “loves us and frees us from our sins by his blood.”
This year’s celebration, however, is muted by scandals within the Church. These incidents of bad news call us back to the Gospel, to the holiness expected of every missionary disciples of the risen Lord. Amid the constant noise and clatter of the world we struggle to open our hearts and minds to hear the gentle but clear voice of the Good Shepherd and to follow him faithfully along the paths of the kingdom.
Jesus tells Pilate that he has come into the world “to testify to the truth. Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice.” Note that Jesus does not say this seated on a magnificent throne opposite Pilate or dressed in flowing royal robes. Jesus stands beaten and wounded, a crown of thorns on his head, as he prepares to receive a sentence of a horrifying death from the Roman Procurator—the cost of living in accord with the truth of the Gospel!
Today our nation—and our Church—are torn by partisanship, polarization and division based on political goals and ideology. The kingdom of God over which Christ the King rules is a place of justice for all, peace, mercy and compassion, unity and harmony, love and reconciliation. That is the truth of the Gospel. It is an enormous challenge!
If we want to honestly declare today that Christ is the King, the Lord of our lives, then we need to listen very closely to his words. We need to listen to them together, engaging in dialogue, not invective—humbly seeking the truth together, searching the Scriptures to learn God’s will for us. Otherwise we are only noisy gongs and clanging cymbals.
Fr. Al Spilly, C.PP.S., lives at St. Charles Center in Carthagena, Ohio. He has taught Scripture at both the undergraduate and graduate levels and has given many Bible-based retreats and talks.