Tomorrow, Sunday, we celebrate the feast of Christ the King. In the Gospel we read the fascinating story of the trial of Jesus by Pilate. It is indeed the story of the trial of truth. It is the story of a throng moved to blindness by passion. Amongst the throng there is one who stands out as having the greatness to recognize the stature and the innocence of Jesus. This is Pilate. He first tries to evade his dilemma by compromise. He tries to have Jesus released using the Jewish custom of releasing a prisoner on the festival day. But the people called out for the release of Barabbas, a thief and a murderer. What an irony! Then Pilate had Jesus scourged but the crowd still cried out, “Crucify him, Crucify him!” Then they put some more pressure on Pilate. “If you release this man you are not a friend of Caesar’s.” The reports going to Rome, they said in effect, might not be good and Pilate may not find himself retiring with the accustomed promotion in rank.
In the trial of Jesus, when Pilate asks him, “Are you the King of the Jews?” there is a shifting of roles. It is Pilate and his capacity to live the truth that is brought into trial. Jesus said “I came into the world for this; to bear witness to the truth; and all who are on the side of truth listen to my voice.” Pilate was condemned when he failed to listen to the voice of truth.
To have Christ as our King is to follow the way of truth and it is often a heroic way to follow.
The wisdom of the East has always taught that one cannot be silent and continue to be dishonest at the same time. One can say prayers, and worship and sing, and drown out the voice of conscience. But in silence honesty shouts. This is one of the reasons why meditation is not a popular kind of prayer. It is too threatening. It puts us on the spot like the innocence of Jesus put Pilate on the spot and made him judge himself. Silent meditation is a way of prayer for those who have the courage to follow the King of Truth.
Note: In the Novus Ordo, this Feast was moved from the last Sunday in October to the last Sunday of the Season after Pentecost, which is the Sunday before Advent Sunday. The effect of this is to interrupt the relationship between the reign of Christ with His Saints, who are commemorated en masse on 1 November, and the necessity of our recognizing His Kingship now, during this “thousand years” of the Church Age. With the Feast moved to the very last Sunday in the Time After Pentecost (which, this year, is tomorrow), unfortunately it leads one to believe that Christ isn’t King now, and that all persons and nations don’t need to recognize Him as King now — but that He will be recognized as King only at the end of time when He reveals Himself at His Second Advent. In other words, the moving of the Feast symbolically defeats the very purpose of the Feast, which is to not only honor the very fact of His Kingship, but to pray for the conversion of all people and nations to His Church so that souls will be saved and the social order will conform to the moral law.