Pastoral Message – November 21, 2021
In our present times, media outlets hold a significant role in spreading information. Whether information pertains to a specific person or a specific event, news media and social media are powerful conduits in communication. Naturally, when we receive information from various media, we need to be very careful to confirm the accuracy of that which is being communicated. In order to confirm the accuracy of shared information, we filter the news with reliable sources, look at evidence and survey databases. Most importantly, we try to have as real and direct an encounter with the person or the things that we are concerned about in order to verify the authenticity and accuracy of what is presented.
Today, on the feast of Christ the King, St. John invites us to witness the real, historical encounter between Jesus and Pilate. During this encounter, Pilate introduces the idea and title of Christ as King. to decide for himself whether Jesus is the King or not. Pilate begins to investigate Jesus in asking a simple and objective question: “Are you the King of the Jews?” In response, Jesus answers him with a challenging and personal question: “Do you say this on your own or have others told you about me?”
Indeed, Pilate has heard many things about Jesus and what Jesus has done in his public ministry. This is the first time, however, that Pilate confronts Jesus face to face to testify about what he has heard. On one level, Jesus is being put on trial for the claim that He is King of the Jews. On another level, Pilate is being put on a trial of sorts to determine his own belief in the divinity and kingship of Jesus. At this encounter, Jesus offers Pilate an opportunity to confess his own faith based on his own personal experience with Jesus rather than on what other people have told him.
As the story unfolds, Pilate falls back from his own experience onto the testimony of other people talking about Jesus when he says “Your own nation and the chief priests handed you over to me.” It would have been better to focus the discussion on the idea that Jesus had introduced when he said “My kingdom does not belong to this world.”
As followers of Christ in this modern world, how are we supposed to respond to the personal question that Jesus proposes to Pilate when Pilate asks: “Are you the King of the Jews?” What is our own answer? Do we confess Jesus as King based on our own knowledge or based on the knowledge of what other people have told us? Although we inherit a great tradition of faith and benefit from what our ancestors have passed on to us about Jesus, we are invited to learn everyday more of what and who Jesus is.
Being true witnesses for Christ is not about knowing Jesus on the surface only. Our witness to who Christ is requires a foundation of study and prayers. Having these elements combined will help us to recognize and respond to the presence of the Lord who is active and present in every moment of our lives.
As the liturgical year is about to end, let us examine ourselves regarding Jesus’ place in our lives? What do we share with our friends about Jesus from our own experience? When do we feel that we are being put on trial for our faith, and how do we respond? To whom do we run for help? Remember the admonition of Albert Einstein: “What is right is not always popular and what is popular is not always right” Following the Lord is not about being popular in this world, but we follow the Lord because of his goodness and truth, His mercy and justice.
May everyone love and obey the royal and Divine Heart of Jesus who is King of all kings.