John 18:33-38 Homily Preparation Notes
From Reading Cornelius Lapide
-- Pilate governed Judea in the name of the Roman emperor Tiberius
-- Plate had gone out, so he had come back in again to speak with Jesus
-- the priests realized that Pilate was unmoved by their authority in their previous condemnation, so Pilate asks them about the reason of the crimes accused him so that he might determine the guilt...
-- the crimes? Perverting the nation, forbidding tribute to Caesar, saying he is Christ the King
-- Pilate puts away the first two accusations as false and malicious... and he turns to whether Jesus is king... was Jesus the King of the Jews, or did this right belong to him because of royal blood?... or because of the messianic title, or any other grounds?
-- Jesus asks Pilate if he was saying this on his own, because he wants to make clear to Pilate that these words are calumny of the Jews; i.e., Jesus knows Pilate has gotten this from the Jews
-- it was Pilate's job to defend Caesar's name and dominion, making sure no one would call himself ruler of Judea
-- not of this world: human and temporal, but human pomps, laws, soldiers, arms, governors... so Caesar did not have to fear him for this temporal dominion
-- of another world: heavenly, spiritual, transcendent, reigning in the hearts of believers by faith and grace
-- "Thou sayest it" means: "I am the king of the Jews as thou sayest, i.e., I am the Messiah, the king." Jesus could not deny that he is the king promised to the Jews by the prophets.
-- Three full dominion and sovereignty: Divine (highest), human (lower), between these two with the authority of Christ as man far exceeding and surpassing all human sovereignty... exceeding human sovereignty by its origin in God, its stability since it is unconquerable/perpetual/eternal, its object extending to all created beings, even angels
-- this dominion over all creation belongs to Christ by reason of his hypostatic union
-- testimony to the truth... everything which has being is true, and God is Being Himself (I AM WHO AM), therefore Truth Himself... Being, Truth, Goodness
-- to be of the truth means to be God, and vice versa... a son of God is a son of Truth
-- remember John 8:47 "He that is of God, heareth the words of God. Therefore you hear them not, because you are not of God."
-- Pilate's tacit objection: it's if you give testimony to the truth, why do the rulers and scribes, who are professors of truth, not listen to you, and even pursue you to death?... and Jesus' response: they are not of the truth, but of falsehood... much because of the false opinions, their desire for honor... remember John 8:44 "You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and he stood not in the truth; because truth is not in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father thereof."
From Various Other Commentaries
-- They cannot say, "He is a traitor, a murderer, a felon, a breaker of the peace," but they say, "He is an evil-doer." He an evil-doer who went about doing good! Let those be called whom he had cured, and fed, and taught; whom he has rescued from devils, and raised from death; and let them be asked whether he be an evil-doer or no. Note, It is no new thing for the best of benefactors to be branded and run down as the worst of malefactors.
-- "Art thou the king of the Jews" (Gk. ho basileus)... the one expected and spoken about
-- realize the tremendous political pressure against Pilate, dealing with the wealthy house of Annas, and then he organized and elite scribes, also the constant danger of radical groups such as Essenes and Zealots... also the fact that it was Passover and the city was packed overflowing... then there is a bit of conflict with Herod who had direct contact with Caesar and had influenced some decisions against Pilate in the prior years, so there is insecurity with the relationship with Ceasar
-- Pilate wants nothing to do with personal opinion regarding Jesus' kingship... it is the nation that has brought Jesus to him that is contending against his kingship... but Pilate has to ask in order to deal with this nation, in order to get Jesus to admit something in front of him
-- the true reason why the chief priests were outrageous against Jesus was because he did not set up a temporal kingdom in opposition to the Roman power; if he would have done this, and would have wrought miracles to bring the Jews out of the Roman bondage, as Moses did to bring them out of the Egyptian, they would have been so far from siding with the Romans against him that they would have made him their king, and have fought under him against the Romans
-- Pilate knew the accusations were lies, but he is somewhat stuck, because they are able to blackmail him -- given some past blunders. On one occasion the emperor even took the side of the Jews and forced Pilate to remove some shields that had been put up with the Emperor's name on them for veneration...
-- "if you release this man you are no friend of Caesar's" is a very threatening line for Pilate.
-- Piux XI instituted the Feast of Christ the King in 1925 to counteract the growing laicism, secularism and atheism of his time. Against these errors the feast affirms the sovereignty and rule of Christ over persons, families, human society, the state, and the whole universe. The feast affirms the the messianic kingship of this king who obtained His sovereignty by His blood.
From Pius XI Quas Primas Instituting Christ the King Feast
-- We remember saying that these manifold evils in the world were due to the fact that the majority of men had thrust Jesus Christ and his holy law out of their lives; that these had no place either in private affairs or in politics: and we said further, that as long as individuals and states refused to submit to the rule of our Savior, there would be no really hopeful prospect of a lasting peace among nations. Men must look for the peace of Christ in the Kingdom of Christ.
-- Moreover, since this jubilee Year marks the sixteenth centenary of the Council of Nicaea, We commanded that event to be celebrated, and We have done so in the Vatican basilica. There is a special reason for this in that the Nicene Synod defined and proposed for Catholic belief the dogma of the Con-substantiality of the Only-begotten with the Father, and added to the Creed the words "of whose kingdom there shall be no end," thereby affirming the kingly dignity of Christ.
-- metaphorical title of "King," because of the high degree of perfection whereby he excels all creatures. So he is said to reign "in the hearts of men," both by reason of the keenness of his intellect and the extent of his knowledge, and also because he is very truth, and it is from him that truth must be obediently received by all mankind. He reigns, too, in the wills of men, for in him the human will was perfectly and entirely obedient to the Holy Will of God, and further by his grace and inspiration he so subjects our free-will as to incite us to the most noble endeavors
-- His kingship is founded upon the ineffable hypostatic union. From this it follows not only that Christ is to be adored by angels and men, but that to him as man angels and men are subject, and must recognize his empire; by reason of the hypostatic union Christ has power over all creatures.
-- Pope Leo XIII: "His empire includes not only Catholic nations, not only baptized persons who, though of right belonging to the Church, have been led astray by error, or have been cut off from her by schism, but also all those who are outside the Christian faith; so that truly the whole of mankind is subject to the power of Jesus Christ."
-- When once men recognize, both in private and in public life, that Christ is King, society will at last receive the great blessings of real liberty, well-ordered discipline, peace and harmony. Our Lord's regal office invests the human authority of princes and rulers with a religious significance; it ennobles the citizen's duty of obedience.
-- If princes and magistrates duly elected are filled with the persuasion that they rule, not by their own right, but by the mandate and in the place of the Divine King, they will exercise their authority piously and wisely, and they will make laws and administer them, having in view the common good and also the human dignity of their subjects.
-- If We ordain that the whole Catholic world shall revere Christ as King, We shall minister to the need of the present day, and at the same time provide an excellent remedy for the plague which now infects society. We refer to the plague of anti-clericalism, its errors and impious activities. This evil spirit, as you are well aware, Venerable Brethren, has not come into being in one day; it has long lurked beneath the surface. The empire of Christ over all nations was rejected. The right which the Church has from Christ himself, to teach mankind, to make laws, to govern peoples in all that pertains to their eternal salvation, that right was denied. Then gradually the religion of Christ came to be likened to false religions and to be placed ignominiously on the same level with them. It was then put under the power of the state and tolerated more or less at the whim of princes and rulers. Some men went even further, and wished to set up in the place of God's religion a natural religion consisting in some instinctive affection of the heart. There were even some nations who thought they could dispense with God, and that their religion should consist in impiety and the neglect of God. The rebellion of individuals and states against the authority of Christ has produced deplorable consequences.
-- But if the faithful were generally to understand that it behooves them ever to fight courageously under the banner of Christ their King, then, fired with apostolic zeal, they would strive to win over to their Lord those hearts that are bitter and estranged from him, and would valiantly defend his rights.
-- In this year, by solemnly celebrating the centenary of the Council of Nicaea. We have commemorated the definition of the divinity of the word Incarnate, the foundation of Christ's empire over all men.
-- We further ordain that the dedication of mankind to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, which Our predecessor of saintly memory, Pope Pius X, commanded to be renewed yearly, be made annually on that day.
From Reading St. Peter Julian Eymard's Eucharistic Handbook
-- Eucharistic service of Jesus must have three qualities: it must be a sovereign service, a service of love, and a liturgical service
-- coming before every other service, because it is a service of the sovereign Lord... "thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and serve no one but him."
-- The God of the Eucharist is on his throne of love to be the sole center of our adoration and of our hearts
-- Eucharistic service demands that the adorer serve his divine Master as he would serve the king, out of sheer duty [ so contrary to the attitude of quite a lot of people today who find it quite inconvenient to get out of bed in the morning on a Sunday... no sense of duty whatsoever, rather, the idea that they should not be expected to inconvenience themselves... this very thing was said to me recently by a handful of young people ]
-- that Eucharistic service ought itself to be man's greatest reward, his greatest delight; not everyone is allowed to serve the person of the King
-- everything in the adorer should be at the service of Jesus Christ: his mind, his heart, his will, his senses.
-- Jesus Christ demands a universal homage of man's whole being in order to glorify in Himself the whole man
-- the Christian owes to Jesus Christ at least the same service man gives to the kings of the earth. Kings have been served with no recompense other than fulfilling duty, no glory other than the service itself... the high dignity of the king and titles and to this... so much the more for Jesus Christ, deserving a royal service
-- those assigned to the personal service of the King are the most honored... like sharing the happiness of the most Blessed Virgin Mary and St. Joseph
-- Jesus so often left alone and ignored in the Eucharist, while waiting rooms of the great ones of this world are crowded with a dazzling court and a picked guard of honor, etc.... the mighty of this world hardly ever enter his temple anymore... [ how much our frame of mind must be able to set ourselves apart from the neglect of the world, taking on a more intense desire to offer due adoration ]
Related Scripture Passages
Daniel 2:44 44 But in the days of those kingdoms the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that shall never be destroyed, and his kingdom shall not be delivered up to another people, and it shall break in pieces, and shall consume all these kingdoms, and itself shall stand for ever.
Daniel 7:13-14 13 I beheld therefore in the vision of the night, and lo, one like the son of man came with the clouds of heaven, and he came even to the Ancient of days: and they presented him before him. 14 And he gave him power, and glory, and a kingdom: and all peoples, tribes and tongues shall serve him: his power is an everlasting power that shall not be taken away: and his kingdom that shall not be destroyed.
Psalm 44:2-8 2 My heart hath uttered a good word I speak my works to the king; My tongue is the pen of a scrivener that writeth swiftly. 3 Thou art beautiful above the sons of men: grace is poured abroad in thy lips; therefore hath God blessed thee for ever. 4 Gird thy sword upon thy thigh, O thou most mighty. 5 With thy comeliness and thy beauty set out, proceed prosperously, and reign. Because of truth and meekness and justice: and thy right hand shall conduct thee wonderfully. 6 Thy arrows are sharp: under thee shall people fall, into the hearts of the king's enemies. 7 Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: the sceptre of thy kingdom is a sceptre of uprightness. 8 Thou hast loved justice, and hated iniquity: therefore God, thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows.
Isaiah 9:6-7 6 For a CHILD IS BORN to us, and a son is given to us, and the government is upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called, Wonderful, Counsellor, God the Mighty, the Father of the world to come, the Prince of Peace. 7 His empire shall be multiplied, and there shall be no end of peace: he shall sit upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom; to establish it and strengthen it with judgment and with justice, from henceforth and for ever: the zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this.
Jeremiah 23:5 5 Behold the days come, saith the Lord, and I will raise up to David a just branch: and a king shall reign, and shall be wise, and shall execute judgement and justice in the earth.
Zechariah 9:9 9 Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Sion, shout for joy, O daughter of Jerusalem: BEHOLD THY KING will come to thee, the just and saviour: he is poor, and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt the foal of an ass.
Luke 1:32 32 He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the most High; and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of David his father; and he shall reign in the house of Jacob for ever.
Matthew 25:31 31 And when the Son of man shall come in his majesty, and all the angels with him, then shall he sit upon the seat of his majesty.
Matthew 28:18 18 And Jesus coming, spoke to them, saying: All power is given to me in heaven and in earth.
Points to Ponder
-- consider the vacillation in Pilate's soul as he moves between Jesus and the crowd, and increasingly becomes convinced of Jesus' innocence
-- Pilate tries to determine the status of the one with who he is speaking... the conversation particularly tries to establish/define those who are the subjects: the Jews? Some hosts beyond this world?
-- The solution seems to be in the capacity to hear the voice of Jesus... a capacity which comes from being born of the truth, being "of" the truth
-- kingly authority of Jesus Christ cannot be arrested or overpowered by physical force