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To confess Christ as King is more than a declaration of loyalty

Duccio di Buoninsegna portrays Christ before Pilate in a painting completed in 1311

Kingdoms, be they ancient or modern, ultimately rest on loyalty and power. Throughout our lives we choose where our loyalties shall be given and what shall have the power to change and mould our lives. In this sense we are the subjects of many kingdoms: the kingdom of home and family; the kingdom of our own longings and desires; and the kingdom of work and a desire to be both accepted and successful. These many kingdoms are the reality of our lives. They hold us in their power and demand our loyalty. Such is the frailty of sinful humanity that these different kingdoms, all claiming our loyalty, can sometimes be in conflict.

The celebration of Christ as the Universal King calls us to surrender our lives to the power of Christ’s love, placing our deepest loyalty in him, knowing that in him alone the divided kingdoms of our hearts find healing. To confess Christ as King is more than a declaration of loyalty; it is our firm confession that Christ, our Risen Lord, has the power to bring a broken world to himself.

Today’s reading from the Prophet Daniel must be understood against the troubled times of his own generation. Israel’s ancient faith had been severely tested by a new and unsympathetic regime. His vision of one coming on the clouds of heaven, one whose sovereignty would never pass away, was a confession of faith. He was calling a threatened people to keep faith with the God whose power was greater than the kingdoms that threatened to obliterate them. He longed for the day when that power would be manifested in the person of Jesus.

The Book of Revelation underlines the very different kingdom that Christ came to establish. It was by sharing a death like ours, by raising up our broken lives in his Resurrection, that Christ’s kingdom was established in our hearts. “He loves us and has washed away our sins with his blood, and has made us a line of kings, priests to serve his God and Father: to him be glory and power for ever and ever.”

In a world that is constantly searching for meaning, Christ is revealed as the meaning, the loving purpose that guides the whole of creation. “I am the Alpha and the Omega, says the Lord God, who is, who was, and who is to come, the Almighty.” These words from Revelation, like those from the Book of Daniel, reaffirmed the power of God’s kingdom to lead us to himself in troubled times.

In the exchange between Jesus and Pontius Pilate, even as the darkness of the Passion overshadowed Jesus, nothing could extinguish Christ’s longing for this kingdom. Pontius Pilate represented the kingdoms of might and acquisition, pride and overbearing power. Christ stood condemned by such kingdoms, but refused to abandon the kingdom that his whole life had proclaimed: “Yes, I am a king. I was born for this, I came into the world for this: to bear witness to the truth; and all who are on the side of truth listen to my voice.”

During this Year of Faith we are called to confess Christ as the Lord of our lives, the ruler of our hearts and desires. Let us allow him to be the truth that sets us free from every vanity and self-deception.

He is King, longing to gather us into the joy and peace of his kingdom.