for Sunday, November 21, 2021
"Pilate had an inscription written and put on the cross. It read, "Jesus the Nazorean, the King of the Jews." Now many of the Jews read this inscription, because the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city; and it was written in Hebrew, Latin, and Greek. So the chief priests of the Jews said to Pilate, "Do not write ‘The King of the Jews,' but that ‘He said, I am the King of the Jews.'" Pilate answered, "What I have written, I have written." John 19:19-22
This passage follows the dialogue between Pilate and Jesus presented in today's Gospel. Pilate asked Jesus if he were a king. Jesus replied, "You yourself say so." So Pilate had the inscription put on the cross. He was being sarcastic. It inferred: "Does this look like a king to you?" He was being brutal, "This is what Rome does to anyone who claims to be a king." He didn't realize it; he didn't intend it; but his statement was true, "This is a king."
Jesus said, "My Kingdom is not of this world." What was, what is his Kingdom? Up until a few centuries ago, no one could imagine a government that was not ruled by a king, queen or some sort of emperor. Some people have a difficult time understanding today's celebration because they see it as seeking an end of democracy and a return to monarchy. That is not the case. When we pray Thy Kingdom Come we are not concerned with any form of government. When we pray Thy Kingdom Come we are focusing on God having absolute power in our world.
So we pray Thy Kingdom come. We say this so often that we skim through the words. We hardly notice them. Nor do we reflect on what we are asking for when we say Thy Kingdom Come. What do we mean by this prayer? Do we really want this prayer answered? What are we doing to bring about the Kingdom of God?
I often ask people to consider these questions when they come to receive the sacrament of penance. I want to go into these at a greater depth.
First of all, what do we mean by Thy Kingdom Come? The prayer is calling on God to transform the world into His Kingdom. That would mean an end to hatred, an end to greed, an end to materialism. In the Kingdom of God, all that would matter would be our union with God. The value system of the secular world would be scrapped. In the Kingdom of God, the goal of hard work would be to have more to give to those who have less. In the Kingdom of God, justice and charity would reign. All people would be good to each other. All would enjoy union with the King, union with God.
When we pray Thy Kingdom Come, we are being eschatological. There's a word you don't hear that often. Eschatology is the study of the last things, the end of time. When we pray Thy Kingdom Come we are praying for the second coming of the Lord at the end of time. At the end of the Church year, we pray for the end of time. This brings the prayers of the Church full circle, for at the beginning of Advent, as we will see next week, we pray, Maranatha, the most ancient prayer of the Church. Maranatha, come Lord Jesus.
Do we want all this? Do we want Thy Kingdom Come in the full meaning of the prayer? Union with God. Peace in the world. Of course we want that. But are we willing to pay the price? Can we honestly say that we would be willing to give up all those material things for which we have worked so hard? Would we be willing to see others enjoy the fruit of our labor? Would we be happy to have less than we have so that others could have more than they have? The Kingdom of God comes with a price. We pray Thy Kingdom Come, but do we really want to pay the price of the Kingdom? Do we want Christ to come again and bring the world to its conclusion? Would we be happy to see an end to reality as we know it? Are we looking forward to the beginning of total union with God for some, hopefully for most, and sadly eternal life without God, eternal death, for some, hopefully for few?
If we want Thy Kingdom Come, then what are we doing about it? How are we working for the Kingdom? Do we work hard to keep a union with God? Do we fight against all forms of hatred, bigotry and prejudice? Do we look for ways that we can reach out to those who have less than we have? Do we live in such a way that others can say, "He, she, is certainly a Christian?" Can others give us the greatest compliment we could ever receive, "He is a godly man. She is a godly woman. I see God in him, in her."
Jesus stood before Pilate and said, "My Kingdom is not of this world." Pilate couldn't understand Him. He didn't want to understand Him.
But we understand Him. We want an end to starvation. We want an end to cruelty. We want an end to the drug epidemic. We want an end to sex trafficking. We want an end to violence. We want an end to all the horrors of our society. We want Jesus!
And so, we pray, Thy Kingdom Come!
Readings of the day:
First Reading: Daniel 7.13-14
Second Reading: Revelation 1.5-8
Gospel: John 18.33b-37
This material is used with permission of its author, Rev. Msgr. Joseph A. Pellegrino, Diocese of St. Petersburg, FL. Visit his
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