Christ the King

all saintsWhen we were young, we had the time to indulge our imagination. We pretended to be famous, wealthy, powerful. Of course we grew up, but sometimes not out of those fantasies. In fact, multi-billion dollar industries are dedicated to making those dreams come true. But only for a while. And always for a price. Let’s take the ultimate indulgence. What does it really mean to be “king of the world?” Take a few moments and step into the shoes of Jesus. How would you answer the charge you were a king of all?

What does it mean to be a king? Is it the old model of absolute power? Or is it Christ’s leadership of service? These questions are the essence of Pilate’s and Jesus’ dialogue.

Jesus responds with a speech about his arena (i.e., “his kingdom”). Jesus’ arena is not that of popular culture or politics; if it was there would be a bloody revolution.

Pilate still presses the point: “You are a king, aren’t you?” Jesus gives in on a semantic point (“You’re the one who says so, Pilate”) but finally gives Pilate a direct witness: Jesus speaks the truth.

How does the truth Jesus speaks and the truth the “world” speaks different? The truth of the world is transient in nature; it changes with the season and the political landscape. It speaks to ambition and power, to possessions and pleasure. The truth of the world is, at best, shallow.

But the truth Jesus speaks is one of the heart. The truth of Jesus is more than facts; it is one of fidelity. God is “true” to us; that means, he is faithful. He shows us his fidelity through his Son and the power of his Spirit. When we are true to God in return, we “live in truth” (that is, in relationship). Since God is eternally faithful, God’s truth goes beyond the transient nature of politics, fad, and fashion.

How does your relationship with God touch you in ways the world cannot match? How has the truth of world failed you? How has God’s faithfulness sustained you?

A theologian once said that all revelation is invitation. In other words, all that God reveals to us invites us to live with him. This is the reality of Jesus’ kingship. Jesus is Lord, so we might live near him in love. He is King of the World, not over us but for us and with us.

To Be Tempted

It is said that certain items are “rust-proof.”  Other things are billed as either “dust-proof” or “spill-proof” or “bullet-proof” or “child-proof” or “scratch-proof.” But here’s something which no human being ever has been or ever will be: “temptation-proof.”

Temptations are luring. They present us with a seeming good we do not presently have but want. Without a lure, temptations do not exist. Temptations always lure us to a false good.

In our Gospel today, Jesus is faced with three perceived goods. And each temptation put to Jesus involved some misguided personal gain – power, prestige and possessions. By resisting the temptations, Jesus shows us that our true gain is not in satisfying ourselves but in something better – utter fidelity to God.

Temptations are not an indication of sin, rather, they are occasions for us to show that our lives are turned to God. In resisting temptations, we are choosing who we want to be – those who faithfully serve God by doing good for others.

Lent is a focused time to grow in holiness and transformation; it is a time to take the test of who we want to be.  We don’t have to go out to the desert to find temptation. But we do need God’s nearness to resist it. And that God has promised us.