Church Life,  Faith and Life

Not Of This World

The conversation between Pilate and Christ has always fascinated me. I contemplate it at length in the Sorrowful Mysteries of the Rosary and I am certain there are great depths to be reached there, but I seem only to find glimmers rather than superabundant light. I go back to it time and time again and I keep looking, hoping that one day I might be given the grace to penetrate it just a little deeper.

You will recognise the conversation I am referring to.

It is the morning of Good Friday and the arrested Christ has been brought before Pilate at the Praetorium. Pilate is quite reluctant to take an active part in what the religious leaders are seeking from him, which is the execution of Christ. This Man stands there before the governor of the Roman province of Judaea. He is a poor and simple Man, even though He was worked numerous miracles and even though He has come up against the shallow and hypocritical religious leaders time and again. This, indeed, is precisely what brings Him now before Pilate. Pilate asks Him – “Are You the King of the Jews?”

My Kingdom is not of this world

The reply given by Christ is directed ostensibly at Pilate in that moment – but it echoes in the heart of every single one of us, and especially those who call ourselves ‘Christian’. He reminds us that He is indeed a King, born for this that He might testify to the Truth, adding that all who belong to Truth listen to His voice. He then says clearly – for Pilate and for us – that His Kingdom is not of this world.

When I read those words, my heart sinks. I look at my own life and think of how often I consider that Christ’s Kingdom is of this present world, and of how little thought I have given to the next. I think of how, like Pilate I, too, question the authority of Christ and how I thwart and reduce His reign in my heart and in my life.

My consolation came in the Gospel today Mass. There, Saint Luke describes how Christ, now crucified upon the Cross, is addressed by ‘the Good Thief’, as we have come to know him. That man’s plea is the same plea I make so very, very often –

Jesus, remember me

Christ, in the midst of His suffering and approaching death, promises this man – “Today, you will be with Me in Paradise.” Nowhere else in all of Scripture is this promise made. No-one else is given this unequivocal promise of entry to Heaven. And as with those earlier words, addressed to all of us even as they are spoken to Pilate, so these words too, spoken to this poor dying man, are for every one of us – if only we will approach Christ in humility as that man has done and, in complete trust, ask His mercy.

Like the Good Thief, we can beg that divine mercy at the very end, assuming we are granted the opportunity to do so – but mindful that such a chance may not be given us. But we have another option, too – that we let Christ the King reign within us every moment of every day

When next I contemplate that Mystery of the Scourging, with Christ before Pilate and that conversation taking place, I will remind myself of this. And I will ask myself if I listen to Truth and belong to Truth, and to what extent.

And, realising how far short I fall, I will echo those words of the Good Thief and ask the Merciful Lord, the King of Kings, to remember me.

 

Catholic | Retired Nurse | UK

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