The Lord, as we heard a few minutes ago, said: ‘Yes, I am a king, I was born for this, I came into the world for this: to bear witness to the truth.’ When did he say that? Was it when he calmed the storm on the Sea of Galilea? Was it when he brought Lazarus back from the grave? Was it when he fed thousands of hungry people using a few loaves of bread? No, the Lord revealed his kingship when he stood as a prisoner before the Roman governor. Was it a joke or madness? It was the truth, though not an easy one. It wasn’t easy then, and it hasn’t been easy ever since, to recognise the King of the Jews and of the Universe in Jesus the Prisoner.
My favourite prophet, the prophet Daniel, wrote about the visions of night when he saw, ‘coming on the clouds of heaven one like a son of man’ on whom ‘was conferred sovereignty, glory and kingship.’ All this can be seen in Jesus the Prisoner if we let go our own imagination of sovereignty, glory and kingship, when we allow the Holy Spirit to heal us of this corrupted imagination and open us to the way Jesus has always exercised his kingship by serving and sacrificing.
My Dear Sisters and Brothers!
Jesus standing before Pilate he looked powerless. However it is an eluding impression. Jesus was very much in control. He was in control of his reactions and acting. He rejected playing the game of earthly dictators. ‘Mine is not the kingdom of this world.’ So where is the kingdom of Jesus? Up in the sky? Don’t look up to the sky. Look at Jesus the Prisoner, but look with faith, and you will see the King and the Kingdom. Look at Jesus the Prisoner, but look with faith, and you will see the seed falling into this earth, into our kingdoms, into our lives, and beginning to grow. This kingdom is not a copy of our kingdoms and our societies as Jesus said: ‘My kingdom is not of this kind.’ This kingdom is the transformation of our kingdoms, societies, Church communities, families and individuals.
When Pilate asked Jesus: ‘Are you the King of the Jews?’ maybe he expected Jesus’ supporters to start a war to free their King. It would be so typical to earthly rules. Again Jesus refused to play to these rules. ‘If my kingdom were of this world, my people would have fought to prevent my being surrendered to the Jews. But my kingdom is not of this kind.’ Jesus kingdom is in this world but not according to the standards of this world.
My Dear fellow subjects of Jesus Christ the King of the Universe. If we focus on the crowds which used to fill St Kieran’s and St Mary’s we may feel disheartened or even panic. But let us leave panicking to our Premier who has got less MPs to support his controversial pandemic laws than he first calculated. Our strength and future is in Jesus who is with us, as he promised, until the end of times. He is still serving and sacrificing in our midst when we gather to celebrate the Eucharist, his death and Resurrection. The prestige and honour we used to enjoy as Christians is gone but it is good because prestige and honour is like the crown and royal robes in the magnificent images of Jesus Christ the King. They obscure rather than reveal who we are as Jesus’ people. Our smaller numbers are not bad either. They make us less noisy but give us an opportunity to be clearer on telling the truth of God like Jesus did when standing alone before Pilate he revealed himself as King.