(Luke 23:35-43) There is a lot of chatter about Pope Francis in the media these days. Who is this guy who pays for his own accommodations and drives a used white 1984 Renault 4L? Why does he prefer a simple white cassock to more sumptuous papal vestments? And why did he pass over traditional jewellery made from precious metals in favour of a silver Ring of St. Peter and a humble iron pectoral cross? The night he was elected, Pope Francis could have returned to his lodgings in the Papal car. Instead, he rode back to Casa Santa Marta on the bus with his fellow cardinals. And when he checked out of his room the following morning, he paid his own bill. Unexpected? Yes. Surprising? It shouldn’t be. After all, he is only following the example set by Jesus Christ, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords – the One who Pope Francis represents here on earth.
Christ the King! It sounds so regal, doesn’t it? But two thousand years ago, people were asking the same kinds of questions about Jesus that they are asking about Pope Francis today. If Jesus was really a king, why didn’t He live in a palace like other royalty? If He was truly the promised Messiah, why did He choose to live in poverty, with no place to call home? And if He came to save the Jewish people, why did He refuse to defend Himself when He was brought to trial in the court of Pontius Pilate? What kind of a king was He anyway?
Jesus taught that to be king is to be servant of all. It is to be meek and humble, to turn the other cheek. It is to love unconditionally and to be completely united to the will of God in all things. It is to teach and to heal and to give completely of yourself so that one day, perhaps, you can be spat upon and rejected just as He was – the One who voluntarily died on the Cross for all of our sins. That is His idea of being a king.
Today, the final Sunday of the liturgical Church year, is the Feast of Christ the King. It is a day of joy as we celebrate Jesus’ victory over sin by means of His death and Resurrection. But on this day, there will be no pomp or splendour. On this day, there will be no crown of jewels. There is only a tattered purple robe and a crown of thorns. Behold Your King! He comes riding on a donkey. He is worthy of your love and your worship.
– Sharon van der Sloot