The king is naked.

23 November 2003 34 Sunday B: Christ the King John 18:33-37

 

You have heard many times the story of the king who liked to dress smart. One day a crafty tailor came to the palace and told the king that he would make him the most beautiful king-suit in the world. The tailor added: The stupid people in your retinue will not appreciate its beauty. The tailor pretended to weave this king-suit using invisible thread. No one wished to be considered stupid and so everyone said: What a lovely pair of pants! What glittering suspenders! What an eye-catching tee shirt! Etc. Upon completion the tailor pretended to cloth the king in his new suit. He collected his wage and hurried away. The king immediately left the palace to parade his new attire. The crowds gathered but no one wanted to be thought stupid. Consequently everyone admired the new suit of clothes until a little boy yelled out: Hey, mom, the king is in his birthday suit! The truth was spoken and everyone laughed except the King who made a quick exit back to the palace.

 

WORD OF GOD: Jesus had the habit of saying what was on his mind. In the process, he made a lot of enemies among the powerful people in the communityespecially the priests and Pharisees.

 

The priests wanted to sentence Jesus to death but only the Roman government had this power. Instead the priests were forced to bring Jesus to the Roman governor, Pilate. The priests remained outside the praetorium, Pilates headquarters. Should these priests have entered the government building they would be ritually unclean and couldnt celebrate the Passover feastthe day on which the Jewish people remember their liberation from slavery in Egypt. So Pilate had to get off his chair and go outside and ask the priests: What accusation do you bring against this man?

 

The priests were hoping for a rubber stamp so they answered sarcastically: If he were not a criminal, we would certainly not have handed him over to you. Pilate, equally sarcastic answered: Why do you not take him and pass judgment on him according to your law? And the priests had to answer: We are Roman flunkies and we dont have the power to put anyone to death. And we are not brave himself to break the Roman law and suffer the consequences.

 

So Pilate scampers back to his office and asks Jesus if he is a king. Jesus answers: It is you who say I am a king. The reason I was born, the reason why I came into the world, is to testify to the truth. Pilate answered: What is truth? Pilate is saying: Truth doesnt matter when it comes to politics.

 

Pilate was in a tough spot. He knew that Jesus was innocent. But the Jewish leaders already had on various occasions reported him to his bosses in Rome. Pilate had done a couple of imprudent things. He couldnt afford any more accusations to get back to Rome. He sentenced Jesus to death even though he knew the accusations were false.

 

A few years later the Jews again reported Pilate on another matter and Pilate was ordered to return to Rome. We dont know what happened to him after that. However, he must have often thought of Jesus words: The reason I was bornis to testify to the truth. Whereas the truth that Jesus preached continued through the centuries, Pilate disappeared into oblivion. That is the power of truth. Jesus, our leader and king, always spoke the truth.

 

RESPONSES: As Christians what truths do we need to speak today? What power does truth have? What are the consequences of speaking the truth?

 

Mrs. Lei lives alone but every week Mrs. Wong invites her to play mahjong with two friends. It is the only opportunity for Mrs. Lei to leave her home and get some recreation. And when they finish playing, Mrs. Wong always complains: My daughter very seldom calls me. She is so ungrateful. Finally Mrs. Lei says: One of the reasons why your daughter doesnt call you more often is that you always scold hertell her what a bad daughter she ishow hard your life is. You never tell your daughter how much you love her. I dont blame your daughter for not calling you more often. If I were your daughter, I would never call you. Mrs. Wong was very angry with Mrs. Lei but a few days later, she called her daughter and they had a pleasant conversation.

Still from that time on, Mrs. Wong never invited Mrs. Lei to play mahjong.

 

But we, Christians, like our Master, must from time to time tell others: friends, enemies, pastors, parents, and politicians that they are naked.

 

FINALE Is there some truth that needs to be spoken right here in Wang Tau Hom? In our place of work? In Hong Kong? Do we believe in the ultimate power of the truth that Jesus taught? As Jesus disciples, are we, like Mrs. Lei, willing to accept the consequences of speaking this truth?

 

Our Catechism teaches:

 

Truth as uprightness in human action and speech is called truthfulness, sincerity, or candor. Truth or truthfulness is the virtue which consists in showing oneself true in deeds and truthful in words, and in guarding against duplicity, dissimulation, and hypocrisy. Catechism of the Catholic Church, (Mission Hills: Benziger Publishing Co, 1994), #2468, p. 592.

 

 

 

 

 

HOMILETIC NOTES AND STUFF

23 November 2003 34 Sunday B: Christ the King John 18:33-37

 

ONE WORD: Power of Truth

 

THEME: The power of the king is in speaking the truth. By speaking the truth, Christians have invincible power.

 

 

DESIRED RESULT: I told someone the truth that I have been hiding for several years.

 

SCRIPTURE PASSAGES:

 

The reason I was born, the reason why. I came into the world, is to testify to the truth. John 18: 37 (NAB)

 

If you live according to my teaching, you are my disciples; then you will know the truth and the truth will set you free. John 8: 31-32. (NAB)

 

 

 

CHEWING THE WORD OF GOD

23 November 2003 34 Sunday B: Christ the King John 18:33-37

 

1. What reason did the leaders give to Pilate for wanting to condemn Jesus to death?

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2. What was the real reason that the leaders wanted to condemn Jesus to death?

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3. Show that the leaders thought they were good religious leaders. ______________________________________________

 

4. Give an example of an occasion when someone told you a truth you didnt want to hear? ___________________________

 

5. Honestly, what do you think you would have done if you had been in Pilates situation?

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