The reason why worldly forces deride Jesus and fail woefully to recognize Him as king is chiefly because they do not understand His claim to kingship. To be fair to them, it’s antithetical to worldly reasoning to accept as king, one standing before another king in handcuffs, defending His Kingship, with bruises all over His body, and woven thorns as a crown. We’ll agree that such a king would be a weak and effeminate one. And if you’re his subject, then you’re no better than the wretched of the earth. Yet, such a person is the One we are celebrating His kingship today. Aren’t we insane? Aren’t we as wretched as our King?
Our nation is not ruled by kings, thus we do not really understand that concept. Though we’re often fascinated with English royalty, we still prefer to have leaders to whom we can yell when we get mad at them and their policies or feel our demands are not met. Love him or hate him, our current president, even with an obsequious behavior and a wimpy mind, feels that he’s a great guy or as his media lackeys put it—a decent guy who deserves our respect. And he does. But we have in Jesus a Leader and King mocked and denied, yet He remains benevolent. What makes Him a different kind of king?
Jesus’ answer to these questions is, at best, shocking: “My kingdom is not of this world; my kingdom is not that kind.” So, He still claims to be king. Pilate put a question to Him the intent of which was to amuse the hearers: “So, you are a king, then?” Jesus did not hesitate to let Pilate and all know that He truly is King and the greatest of kings, because He exercises dominion over our hearts, minds, thoughts and consciences. It is at the center of our being, in our consciences that He set up His state house, His congress and Supreme Court; not at Pennsylvania Avenue, at Capitol Hill or our Supreme Court. And He truly rules.
Christ’s mission is to bear witness to the truth and all who desire truth must listen to their conscience. This explains why the conscience is the greatest weapon against the self, because it’s not of our making; otherwise we could induce it always to testify in our defense, as alienists may sometimes testify in court for any side that hires them (Sheen). Beat it down as you may, the conscience as an unbiased testator would remind you of your lie and tell you—“you are that murderer, that adulterer, that liar”—even as you try to deny the act and shut your conscience up. Shakespeare had Lady Macbeth say: “Infected minds to their deaf pillows must discharge their secrets.”
Let me tell you why the world hates the Catholic Church and would be happy to see her demise. The Church does not intrude into our personal lives, nor does she send any police to our homes to monitor our moral lives. The Church will never send me or any priest to your homes to monitor who obeys their parents, who respects and loves their spouses, who prays and teaches their children to pray; whether or not you use artificial contraceptives in your marriage beds or whether the man or woman you slept with last night or sometime ago was your spouse. Yet, it turns your stomach when I talk about these. People would want to shut the Church up when she teaches these values because they touch consciences and are based on truth. That is the true meaning of kingship. That is where and how Christ rules.
At Calvary, we see a defeated Man who ultimately became a conqueror because He died for what He believed. Jesus is our King in the true sense of the word and it is His prerogative to reign over us. Like it or not, He will rule. If our world recognized this, there would have been no murders, hatred, divorces; there’ll be no terrorists, no blackmail, no wars, greed, and oppression. These have come to be part of our everyday experience because many chose as king, an enemy—the Devil—rather than Jesus, our true Friend, Lord and King.
Fr. Chukwudi Jo Okonkwo