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Scripture reflection: ‘Mine is not a kingdom of this world’

16 November 2018

Lectionary reading

First reading: Daniel 7:13-14.

Responsorial Psalm: 92(93):1-2, 5.

Second reading: Apocalypse 1:5-8.

Gospel: John 18:33-37.

Link to readings. 

Introduction

The last Sunday of the Church’s year is celebrated as the Feast of Jesus Christ, the Universal King. We celebrate the resurrection victory of Jesus over suffering and death, a moment in historical time that has everlasting meaning, and look forward to the end of time when we will know fully the glory, holiness and peace of God’s kingdom.

The readings all bear witness to the glory of Christ Jesus. The First Reading is a prophecy from Daniel that can be seen to foretell the coming of Jesus, when people of all nations and languages will become his faithful servants.

The Second Reading describes the love of Jesus for each one of us; a love that makes us not simply servants, but fills us with his glory even as we mourn his death.

We can trust all that Jesus has done and said; his majesty, power and holiness are unchanged to the end of time (Psalm).

The Gospel recounts the dialogue between Pilate and Jesus in the hours before the crucifixion. Jesus tells us that his kingdom has values that are not of this world. If we seek the truth, we will listen carefully to his voice and live by his words.

This week, we pray that we may learn to know him more fully in our prayer and follow him more faithfully in our lives.

First Reading Daniel 7: 13–14

I gazed into the visions of the night.
And I saw, coming on the clouds of heaven, one like a son of man.
He came to the one of great age and was led into his presence.
On him was conferred sovereignty, glory and kingship, and men and women of all peoples, nations and languages became his servants. His sovereignty is an eternal sovereignty which shall never pass away, nor will his empire ever be destroyed.

I begin my prayer by coming to quiet in the presence of God, taking my time, trying not to rush. I ask the Holy Spirit to help me to pray.

Then I read the scripture passage, paying attention to any words or phrases that seem to strike me in particular.

What thoughts or feelings do these evoke in me? I share them with God or Jesus.

How do I respond to this description of a glorious Lord and King, whose sovereignty shall never pass away, whose empire shall never be destroyed, whose servant I am?

Perhaps it fills me with joy and hope . . . or maybe there are other ways of relating to Jesus that are more meaningful for me? I ponder. I talk with Jesus.

I may like to make my own litany of praise to Jesus, reverently and slowly, lingering with each phrase: Jesus my Lord . . . Jesus my King . . . Jesus my Saviour . . . and so on, however I am moved.

Perhaps I stay for a while with one phrase, or with the holy name of Jesus, simply savouring his presence with me.

Jesus is King of “all peoples, nations and languages”. I end my prayer by remembering the needs of the Church and the world.

Our Father . . . your kingdom come . . .

Gospel: John 18: 33–37

Are you the King of the Jews?” Pilate asked. 
Jesus replied, “Do you say this of your own accord or have others spoken to you about me?”
Pilate answered, “Am I a Jew? It is your own people and the chief priests who have handed you over to me: what have you done?”
Jesus replied, “Mine is not a kingdom of this world; if my kingdom were of this world, my men would have fought to prevent my being surrendered to the Jews. But my kingdom is not of this kind.”
“So you are a king then?” said Pilate.
“It is you who say it”, answered Jesus. “Yes, I am a king. I was born for this, I came into the world for this: to bear testimony to the truth; and all who are on the side of truth listen to my voice.”

Before my prayer, I try to find some stillness, gently putting aside the concerns of today to rest in God’s presence.

The Holy Spirit will aid me and, with confidence, I ask for help.

After a while, I read this dialogue between Pilate and Jesus.

I may like to imagine that I am present with them, listening to their words, hearing their tone of voice, watching their gestures.

What do I notice … about Pilate? … about Jesus?

Perhaps I speak with them, asking about their words and meaning?

Jesus speaks of a kingdom “not of this world”, with values of another kind: his followers do not fight for power, but are on the side of truth.

As I reflect on what it means for me to be part of this “kingdom”, I talk with Jesus our Lord just as one friend might speak to another.

Perhaps there is some particular way that Jesus calls me today, to labour with him for the kingdom of God?

I listen.

I ask for whatever grace I need.

I end by thanking Jesus for his presence with me.

Glory be . . .

Prepared by St Beuno’s Outreach in the Diocese of Wrexham

 

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