What’s on your mind, Who’s in your heart?

PhilipStPaulResize
The Lord Is My Chef Sunday Recipe, 25 November 2018
Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe
Daniel 7:13-14///Revelation 1:5-8///John 18:33-37
 
            The trial of Jesus before Pontius Pilate occupies a very important role in the fourth gospel.  Unlike the other three evangelists, John mentioned only in passing that Jesus was brought to the high priest Caiaphas (Jn.18:24) after being examined by his father-in-law Annas while Simon Peter was outside denying the Lord thrice (Jn.18:12-23).  In narrating to us this trial of Jesus before Pilate, we see the spirituality and artistry of the beloved disciple who began his gospel account by solemnly declaring the eternal divinity of the Lord, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” (Jn.1:1).  Building up the climax of his gospel, John placed Jesus for the first time – in fact the only time – face to face with the world’s representative of political power.  And this shows us the meaning and essence of what we are celebrating today with Jesus Christ our Lord as King of the Universe, that His kingdom is “in this world but not of this world.”
 
            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?” (Jn.18:33-35)

             Every morning when we open our Facebook, this scene seems to be happening again in a similar manner when Mark Zuckerberg’s creation asks us“What’s on your mind?”  Facebook and social media are gifts from God, a tremendous blessing for mankind where people meet to forge new friendships and renew old ones.  However, its overuse and abuse have led to many occasions of sins and evil.  In asking Pilate “Do you say this on your own or have others told you about me”, Jesus was not merely asking him what was on his mind but more of who was in his heart.  And we all perfectly know what happened next:  despite pleadings even by his own wife when he himself knew deep inside him the truth, Pilate washed his hands and went on with what was on his mind to sentence Jesus to death even if he knew deep in his heart He was totally innocent and in fact a very good man.

                The question “what’s on your mind” is so enticing for us to just open up without really thinking hard with what we say that may hurt others or have long lasting negative effects not only on other persons but especially to us.  It is a question with so many other implications that do not really seek to address anything substantial but only to affirm our own selves that in this world, at this very moment, “I am the king or the queen” and I can do everything!  We say whatever is on our minds to lord it over other people, sometimes literally throwing our weight around on others that in the process, we destroy our relationships.  Worst of all, when we keep on letting out what is on our minds without checking its veracity, we actually reveal our stupidity than sanity.  If we have to ask any question, we have to be ready to know its answer.  That is why, when we ask Jesus a question, we must inquire things of the above than things of this world for we might not like His answer that eventually would forcibly bring out from our hearts the right answer like what happened with Pilate later.  When Pilate asked Jesus “are you the king of the Jews”, he was not really ready to know yet the answer because deep in his heart he felt and knew the people behind the plot to kill Jesus.  Pilate was not ready to confront them because he also knew the Jewish leaders were very much aware of his corrupt practices.  How sad that so often we ask not to know the answers but simply to affirm our convictions especially if we know they are not sound at all.  When we ask more of this world, of things verifiable by facts and things that can be seen and tested, then we are not yet ready for the truth.

                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.” (Jn. 18:36-37)

            Jesus Christ is king but His kingdom does not belong to this world.  It is in the world but not of the world.  His kingdom transcends beyond this world but right here in us.  Jesus Christ is king when in our hearts He reigns supreme, when we see Him among others as our brothers and sisters in Him.  More than our thoughts and ideas, more than our feelings and assumptions are persons to be loved and respected.  This is the reason why the question is not“what’s on your mind” but “who’s in your heart” which asks the more crucial question, “is Jesus our king?”  
             To recognize Jesus our King is to follow Him by taking up our cross because His kingdom is based not on force or power but on love expressed in humility, kindness, patience, and mercy that are often seen as weakness in the world.  Yes, one may say His kingship is out of this world but that is exactly what the world needs these days!  Remember His lessons to us His disciples these past weeks when He sent us with “no food, no sack, no money in our belts” (Mk.6:8),  that we must be like little children for “whoever does not accept the kingdom of God like a child will not enter it” (Mk.10:15), insisting that whoever wants to be great in His kingdom must be the slave of all like Him who came “not to be served but to serve and to give his life as ransom for many” (Mk.10:44-45).

             The Solemnity of Christ the King reminds us at the closing of our liturgical calendar as we prepare for Advent next week of that main truth that we as a Church must continue to be an image of this kingdom.  And what is the truth?  In the bible, truth is a road or a path one can follow with complete trust to have life found in God’s law.  Truth is something that must be done as in the expression “to walk in truth” (Ps. 119:105) by conforming our lives to the word of God.  See again the spirituality and artistry of the beloved disciple, of how he alone recorded the Lord’s declaration “I am the way, the truth, and the life” (Jn.14:6).  Here we find the totality of Christ the King who is the Truth because He is the way and the life.  Let us recognize today with thanksgiving to God Christ’s coming to us as our Alpha and Omega, our beginning and end.  May His kingdom come as we heed His call every day, especially in the Holy Mass as “the time of fulfillment… Repent, and believe in the gospel” (Mk.1:14-15).  Jesus my King, stay in my heart, reign in my life always!  AMEN. Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II, Parokya ni San Juan Apostol at Ebanghelista, Gov. F. Halili Ave., Bagbaguin, Sta. Maria, Bulacan 3022.  Email:  lordmychef@gmail.com   

*Photo by my former student Arch. Philip Santiago, Basilica of St. Paul Outside-the-Walls in Rome, October 2018.

LMC

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