Gospel Reflections by Father Gerry Pierse, C.Ss.R.

B - 34th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Feast of Christ the King

November 23, 2003
Dn 7:13-14; Ps 93:1, 1-2, 5; Rev 1:5-8; Jn 18:33b-37

Truth on Trial

Often you can know a lot about a person by just reading the banners or
sayings posted on their walls. I knew that Joe was a seeker of truth
when I saw these writings on the walls of his office: “The man who speaks the truth should have one foot in the stirrup.” “Once you have given up your integrity everything else is a piece of cake.” “Nothing sells like sincerity: if you can fake that, you have got it all sown up.”

Then finally there was the framed story of the Truth Shop.

THE TRUTH SHOP

“I could hardly believe my eyes when I read the name of the shop, THE TRUTH SHOP. The salesgirl was very polite: What type of truth did I wish to purchase, partial or whole? The whole truth, of course. No deceptions for me, no defenses, no rationalizations. I wanted my truth plain and unadulterated. She waved me to another side of the store.

The salesman there pointed to the price tag. ‘The price is very high, sir’ he said. ‘What is it?’ I asked, determined to get the whole truth, no matter what it cost. ‘Your security, sir,’ he answered.

“I came away with a heavy heart. I still needed the safety of my unquestioned beliefs.”

Today, we celebrate the feast of Christ the King. In the Gospel we read the fascinating story of the trial of Jesus by Pilate. It is indeed the story of the trial of truth. It is the story of a throng moved to blindness by passion. Amongst the throng there is one who stands out as having the greatness to recognize the stature and the innocence of Jesus. This is Pilate. He first tries to evade his dilemma by compromise. He tries to have Jesus released using the Jewish custom of releasing a prisoner on the festival day. But the people called out for the release of Barabbas, a thief and a murderer. What an irony! Then Pilate had Jesus scourged but the crowd still cried out, “Crucify him, Crucify him!” Then they put some more pressure on Pilate. “If you release this man you are not a friend of Caesar’s.” The reports going to Rome, they said in effect, might not be good and Pilate may not find himself retiring with the accustomed promotion in rank.

In the trial of Jesus, when Pilate asks him, “Are you the King of the Jews?” there is a shifting of roles. It is Pilate and his capacity to live the truth that is brought into trial. Jesus said “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.” Pilate was condemned when he failed to listen to the voice of truth.

We are still being tried by truth, and our loyalty to Christ our King is shown by the outcome. How we behave when we are challenged with the truth is judgment on ourselves and often this is not easy. My friend Joe told me what truth had cost him. As an accountant he had discovered anomalies in the business he had first worked for and he was fired when he drew attention to it. In another case, a researcher was coming up with information that his patrons did not want to hear and he was told that the project would be stopped if the results were not changed. A foreman knows that too much is being paid for spare parts but he will lose his job if he draws this to the attention of management. A lonely man on a trip pours out his woes to a listening woman and he may easily yield to her receptivity in other ways.

To have Christ as our King is to follow the way of truth and it is often a heroic way to follow.

The wisdom of the East has always taught that one cannot be silent and continue to be dishonest at the same time. One can say prayers, and worship and sing, and drown out the voice of conscience. But in silence honesty shouts. This is one of the reasons why meditation is not a popular kind of prayer. It is too threatening. It puts us on the spot like the innocence of Jesus put Pilate on the spot and made him judge himself. Silent meditation is a way of prayer for those who have the courage to follow the King of Truth. That is what we are all supposed to become.

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Taken from Sundays into Silence - A Pathway to Life. Copyright © 1998 by Claretian Publications

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