Is Jesus the King of the Jews? Pilate is speaking not just to Jesus today, but to you and to me. Is he the King? For if we believe that he is the King, the Son of Man who will return at the end of time to judge the living and the dead, then we seek to make our lives worthy of his Kingdom.
Even though, so often, we fall victim to the temptations of the Prince of this World, who lays before us all kinds of false kingdoms. Worldly kingdoms of power and prestige, of wealth and of comfort, where all streets lead to the worship of me, twisting and turning the truth to make it all conform my will and to where I want to go.
But Christ’s Kingdom, as he told us, is not of this world; For it is the dwelling place of God, illumined by the Glory of the Lamb, where there is no more death, nor mourning nor crying out or pain. Its’ streets are paved with the sacrifices of those who have washed their robes in the Blood of the Lamb, the Blood by which he has made us a Kingdom of Priests, destined eternally to be joined in one grand chorus of joyous praise to the glory of the one true King, the “the One who is and who was and who is to come.”
And we are made for this Kingdom, you and I. It’s the reason we were born: made for the eternal praise of the One who will come at the end of time to judge the living and the dead, and who will lead us home to a Kingdom of truth and of life, of holiness and grace, of love and of peace.
Not that we have to go there, mind you. Not that we we are forced to choose to wash our robes in his Blood, to answer his invitation to the Supper of the Lamb, or to rise with those who have chosen to love others as he has loved them.
No, we can freely choose the Kingdom of Darkness. We can choose not to love, not to forgive and not to worship God. We can choose to bow down before the Prince of this world, the Lord of neglect, perdition and sin. And believing all his empty promises, we can choose “the fiery lake of burning sulfur…the second death,” an eternity “locked in the prideful rejection of God's love.”
Which is what brings us to the reason why the Church gives us this feast of Christ the King, and chooses the ancient prayer that will end the Mass today: that, “in obedience to the commands of Christ, the King of the universe, we [might] live with him eternally in his heavenly Kingdom.”
Perhaps it’s also the reason the Church ends the month of November the same way she began it: by remembering death and judgement and the choices we have to make. For death, like this last Sunday of the Church’s year, reminds me of the end, when someday my body will lay in a coffin before the Paschal Candle and those who loved me will come to my Funeral.
As I get older, I think all the more of my death, of how it will all end and the choices I will make in the meantime. I often tell my friends that if at my Funeral someone gets up and preaches a long eulogy about how good I was, they should should throw something at him. For those who truly love me when I die will not praise me, but they will get down on their knees and beg God to forgive me for all my sins and lead me to the Kingdom of Heaven.
For those who love us, and those we love…we’re all are bound together in death just as much as they ever were in life: bound by a solemn obligation to pray that God will forgive us our sins and lead us to everlasting life.
I started November on all Souls Day, by going to a florist not far from Saint John’s Cemetery in Worcester and buying twelve baskets of flowers. And over the rest of the day I visited all of my dead relatives, putting a funeral basket on each grave, singing the In paradisum and begging God to forgive their sins.
So, as this year comes to an end, let us remember the last things. By praying for the dead: that God will forgive their sins. And while we are at it, trying to live a life worthy of the Kingdom of God.