#Truth is the reflection for November 22, 2015. Do you understand things differently now that you have more life experience? Sure you do. How is this a model for understanding the conversation between Jesus and Pontius Pilate before Pilate puts him to death? It has everything to do with being a king. Listen here in this reflection by Mark Kurowski: Download it into your phone. #MSAWordfortheDay #MySpiritualAdvisor #Sermon #Homily #ChristTheKing #King #PontiusPilate #Pilate #John #Being&Doing #ISIS #BlackLivesMatter #AllLivesMatter #ProLife #Tissot
For listener supported My Spiritual Advisor, this is Mark Kurowski with a reflection for Sunday, 11/22/2015 Christ the King Sunday.
Please pause this audio and read John 18:33-37.
It was on one of those days when I was repairing something in the house. It was a day when I was down on my hands and knees and the screw that I was trying to put into a teeny tiny hole was teeny tiny itself. It was when I couldn’t see the grooves cross each other in the Philips screw head and I couldn’t figure out which version of the hole that I was supposed to put the screw into that it hit me that I had taken my first step into getting old. My eyes had changed and I needed to get bifocals.
Since that time, I have learned that there are things in life that have changed because of the times that I live in. I no longer think that bell bottom pants are cool, even if they are coming back. Give the young a little while, they will see how awkward it is to wear those stupid things.
I have learned that things in life are not as critical as I once thought. I need to do my work on time because it speaks to my veracity and dependability, but I no longer need to get upset with others when they don’t do what they should-I just won’t ask them again until they have indicated they can come through.
The time and circumstances of my life have changed. I have changed. I have come to know a truth that was there all along, but I just was not able to see it. My lack of vision in middle age has sharpened my vision about life.
One time, at a baseball game where my son was playing in a tournament, there was a father and two sons. The one son was from a previous marriage and was now an adult. He had come to watch his brother pitch in this critical tournament game. The younger brother was not doing quite as well as everyone was used to seeing him do. The father yelled words of encouragement. To that, the older son, said, “Why aren’t you chewing on his behind!? You would have been jawing at me like crazy between innings!”
The father replied, “I would hope as I have gotten older that I would learn how not to do things and then adjust accordingly.”
It is very unfortunate and dangerous that we worship youth and the youthful perspective so much in our country. I am just struck by the elevation of foolishness as wisdom in our culture. Just this week, Charlie Sheen came out and said, “I did some things for which I am not proud” in an interview with Matt Lauer. Really? Gee, I wouldn’t have known that the drunken, high-on-drug mess we celebrated and used for our entertainment was acting the fool. (That was sarcasm.). When we elevate recklessness, rejection of tradition because it is tradition, or reject novelty because it is something we have never experienced, it is foolishness. Just because we see something in our 20s, or experience something that others have not experienced due to our situation in life, that doesn’t mean that we are automatically right.
When I was repairing whatever it was I was repairing, does it mean that there are now several holes for me to choose from in which I can put that screw? Does it mean that a Philips screw does not have two grooves on the top just because I can no longer see them? Of course, not. I trust, because of the wisdom I have accumulated over the years, that there is something wrong with me because of what I know to be true outside of me.
Why do I say these things? I say them because in our Gospel lesson today, Pilate could be speaking for the entire media industrial complex when he says in disgust at our Lord Jesus, “What is truth?”
Pilate, the “King” of Palestine? Ha! He is a “king” who must do what the Roman Emperor tells him to do. He is a “king” who despises the people he is supposed to serve with good governance. He is a man who cannot understand objective truth because his entire life has been about making deals to get ahead. Now, he is faced with deciding on the life of a human being but will not because it is more expedient for him to kill the man than do what is right. He is a “king” who will give up nothing to save his lifestyle and comfort. He is a “king” who is facing the King of kings who will give up his own life to save the world; The King of kings and Lord of lords, through whom all creation is; The King of kings and Lord of lords, for whom all creation exists; The King of king and Lord of lords, to whom all creation trudges forward, knowingly or unknowingly. May our Lord help those who do not know.
Jesus Christ is the King, the chosen one, the Messiah, through whom the deliverance of Israel comes, even without a Temple for sacrifice, because he IS the Sacrifice. He knows that what is important is the mission of justice. He knows that what is important is a balanced life and life eternal. He knows that there is a place from which HE comes where there is proper perspective: He is God and we are not.
How could Pilate understand when he is just like all the leaders of the Jews who are all acting in self-interest? If Jesus is the ultimate authority in their lives, then it means that they no longer can abuse others to keep their comfort, their power, their position. If Jesus is the ultimate authority in their lives then there is no truth that is “for me.” If Jesus is the ultimate authority in their lives, then the government is structured to help the poor. If Jesus is the ultimate authority in their lives, then workers get paid living wages. If Jesus is the ultimate authority in their lives, then there is no “I am going to do a half way job because the boss is a jerk and I don’t get paid enough”, because there is only one rule: Love your neighbor. If Jesus is the ultimate authority in their lives, there is a reality outside of their own personal experience of “their truth,” which is just as plain as their face. The only way to get around that truth is to lie to yourself, Pilate, Chief Priests, Elders, Scribes, Pharisees, Sadducees, and everyone else who denies truth. So, when Pilate turns to Jesus and asks, “Am I a Jew?” Religiously, no. Metaphorically, yes.
How is it that we are to live in this world and proclaim Jesus Christ the King? We do so by claiming the citizenship of heaven which is bestowed upon us in our Baptism. We believe that the Sacraments are the ordinary and customary ways in which God comes to us and works his grace in us and changes us-permanently. In Baptism, we have been made citizens of Heaven. We have become subjects of the Most High King. Our identity is wrapped up in being citizens of heaven and subjects of the Most High King.
Our truth does not come from our age, our circumstances in life, and our position in a community. Truth comes from our position as a member of a timeless world, heaven, where God lives. Truth comes from the lens of life called the will of God, which NEVER seeks to demean people, degrade people, or destroy people. Here is the Truth we know:
Every life is sacred. Black lives, white lives, straight lives, gay lives, imprisoned lives, diseased lives, rich lives, poor lives, born lives, unborn lives, righteous lives, unrighteous lives, holy lives, sinful lives, every single life is sacred. When anyone’s life is being mistreated, it ought to be cause for anyone, anywhere to stand up and say, “Stop!” We know that people are stopped more by the police if they are black or latino. Why can’t we just admit that? We know that people handle the police in the worst kind of way. Why can’t we admit that? We know unwed children have a less likely chance of making it in our world. Why can’t we admit that? We know that young men are going around their poor neighborhood populating the earth with unwed children because they don’t believe that they will be alive when they are 25. Why can’t we admit that?
Can we just stop and hear the pain of each other? Can we just stop worrying that our truth will not be the prevailing truth so that we can hear the truth?
Can you be loving? Then be loving because the King is loving. Can you be joyful? Then be joyful because the King is joyful. Can you be kind? Then be kind because the King is kind. Can you be gentle? Then be gentle because the King is gentle. Can you have enough self-control to stop before you speak, act, or do anything, to ask yourself what is the thing that you can do that will bring peace? For, He is the Prince of Peace, the Mighty God, the King of kings and Lord of lords. Praise be unto his name!
Yet, the point is not that we praise him. We can jump up and down, raise our hands on high, bow before his greatness, lay prostrate on the floor, which are all things that we MUST do in honor of our King, Jesus. Yet, if we are not an instrument of peace, working for justice, tending to the poor and needy, giving healing to the sick and disabled, then what will people know of Our King but that he is just as self-interested as any other king. Our Truth as a citizen of heaven is to live a life worthy of the King in all our dealings so that we can be a light that shines in this darkness. It must start now. It must start with you. Amen.
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