As the visions during the night continued, I saw one like a Son of man coming, on the clouds of heaven; when he reached the Ancient One and was presented before him, the one like a Son of man received dominion, glory, and kingship; all peoples, nations, and languages serve him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that shall not be taken away, his kingship shall not be destroyed.
Jesus Christ is the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead and ruler of the kings of the earth. To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood, who has made us into a kingdom, priests for his God and Father, to him be glory and power forever and ever. Amen. Behold, he is coming amid the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him. All the peoples of the earth will lament him. Yes. Amen. “I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “the one who is and who was and who is to come, the almighty.”
Gospel Cycle Cycle B
Pilate said to Jesus, “Are you the King of the Jews?” Jesus answered, “Do you say this on your own or have others told you about me?” Pilate answered, “I am not a Jew, am I? Your own nation and the chief priests handed you over to me. What have you done?” Jesus answered, “My kingdom does not belong to this world. If my kingdom did belong to this world, my attendants would be fighting to keep me from being handed over to the Jews. But as it is, my kingdom is not here.” So Pilate said to him, “Then you are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say I am a king. For this I was born and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice.”
Although there are few kings or queens left in the modern world, we still understand the idea of kingship somewhat. For earlier peoples, the king was the center of civil life, of decisions, of life and death and of everything important in his realm. Our Jewish ancestors asked to have a king so that they could be like other nations. God did not want to give them a king, but finally gave in to them. This simplifies the history of our Jewish ancestors but helps us understand a bit the idea of kingship.
Jesus denies that he is this kind of king. He tells us in the Gospel today that he is a king, but not the type of king of this world. His kingdom is not here, but is in the world to come. Because His kingdom is not of this world, no one can destroy it.
The first aspect of the kingdom of Jesus in the Gospel today is truth. We must be committed to seeking the truth. This is not easy in a world that puts pleasure and power and possessions as the primary truths. Instead, Jesus always tells us that there is an inner truth: the plan of God for our lives. Jesus describes this as the will of His Father. Jesus Himself tells us that He only does the will of the Father.
The Book of Daniel speaks in symbols about this kingdom. This book gives us a vision of life after death, but in symbols and images. The kingdom of God will be when everyone acknowledges God and does God’s will, just as Jesus does. Today, we want to believe that our will is more important. We humans continue to seek what we want instead of seeking what God wants. This is true in all of salvation history and is not new to our times.
What is new today is that more and more people no longer believe in God and that there is a strong focus today to reshape our world so that what we want becomes god. We humans now believe that we are the ones who decide what is right and wrong, according to our own terms. This is not God’s kingdom, but a false kingdom.
The Book of Revelation today speaks of Jesus as the firstborn of the dead, the witness, the ruler of all kings and one who is making us into His kingdom. This is the heart of today’s teaching: will we follow Jesus Christ and belong to His kingdom?
To do that, according to the New Testament, the scriptures accepted by Christians, we must walk the way of the Cross as He did. We must accept His teachings about how to live. We must accept the whole of the Scriptures as the inspired Word of God. We must be part of the Church which he established. We must seek for the truth which He gives us.
Do we want to be part of the kingdom? Do we acknowledge Christ as our king? Do we accept the truths which He gives to us in His Church? If we do, we will suffer. More and more in the present age, we are called to suffer as we follow Christ. The readings all tell us this: have courage: you will suffer in this world, but you will belong to Christ forever and rejoice with him in the kingdom.