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November 18, 1988

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November 18, 1988 ma Commentary - Ill The Message -- for Catholics of Southwestern Indiana 5 i By FATHER DONALD DILGER Christ the King: discussion of kingship with Pilate Gospel Commentary for Sunday, Nov. 20, 1988 John 13:24-32 Today we mark the last Sunday of the "year of grace" with the feast of Christ the King. The gospel reading chosen for this feast is taken from John 18. It is a theological discussion of Jesus' kingship and kingdom. One suspects that at least some of the words are not historically from Jesus but are attributed to him, as in other parts of this gospel, by the author to teach his readers his theology, in this case the theology of the kingdom. Thal we are reading theology rather than history here seems all the more so because none of the other gospels has such a detailed discussion between Jesus and Pilate. All the gospels agree that Pilate asked: "Are you the king of the Jews?" In all of them Jesus answers: "You say it." In fact, this brief answer is the only statement Jesus makes to Pilate in Mark, Matthew, Luke. It is John who adds a dialogue between the tWO and finally has Pilate ask again: "Would you say then that you are a king?" It is here that John joins the other evangelists in that brief statement: "You say it," but adds "that I am a king," and then arexplanation in the words of Jesus as to the meaning of that statement. But let's begin with the context of the reading. After his arrest by the temple police, Jesus had been taken to the house of Annas, a former high priestand the father-in-law of Caiaphas, the pre: sent high priest. It seems Annas still called the shots. He was a powerful man who was able to get the Romans to name three of his sons and his son- " in-law as high priests. From there they went to the house of Caiaphas with the kind permission of father-in-law Annas. Then Jesus was taken to the praetorium, the palace where the governor lived and held court. This was Pontius Pilate who governed Judea from 26-36 A.D. The Jewish leaders could not enter the praetorium, the house of a Gentile, a non-Jew, because this would make them ritually unclean. The passover was close and if they were ritually unclean they could not share in the passover meal. Pilate goes out to them and I hears the charges against Jesus. He returns to Jesus who is inside the praetorium. The charge against Jesus in the Gospel of John is only that he was a criminal -- no specifics. In Luke, the religious leaders charge him with sedi- tion or disturbing the political peace, with stirring up opposition against paying taxes to the Romans, and with claiming to be the davidic king. Pilate takes up only the last accusation when he asks: "Are you the king of the Jews?" Jesus doesn't answer directly but asks if Pilate said this of his own accord or did someone else tell him. Pilate answers: "Am I a Jew?" In other words, "How could I know anything about this matter unless someone told me?" Pilate reminds Jesus that it was his own people and the chief priests who handed him over to the Roman authority. "Just what did you do?" Jesus doesn't give a direct answer to this ques- tion. He speaks about his kingdom not being of this world. If it were, his subjects would have fought that he would not be handed over to the Jews. The word which Jesus uses for subjects is the word which John uses consistently for the temple police. Therefore what is meant is that Jesus does not have a political force of any kind to protect him from being railroaded. Even though he is in the hands of the Romans now, the author of the gospel wants to make sure his readers understand who the real culprits are -- "the Jews." John usually uses this term in a hostile sense. It general- ly stands not for the whole Jewish race but for its religious leaders in Jerusalem. We should not forget that there was a brief at- tempt to defend Jesus. Peter drew his sword and started swishing away. He cut off the ear of the servant of the high priest. Jesus told him to put away his sword. But Peter and the disciples were not a police force, not subjects of Jesus, not ser- vants. They were his friends. In 15:15 Jesus says: "No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends .... " Jesus did however have servants, the angels. At the temptation scene in Mark and Matthew the angels wait on him after the temptation. In the Gospel of Matthew Jesus tells Peter: "Don't you i know that I can ask my Father and he will at once send me more than twelve legions of angels?" But the way of Jesus' kingdom is not one of violent resistance. It is a kingdom of peace. All the gospels agree on the theme of non-violence. This comes out especially in Matthew's Sermon on the Mount and Luke's Sermon on the Plain. The kingdom of Jesus is not of this world. It is in the world but not of it, i.e., it is non-political, no spatial or geographical boundaries. The same was said of his followers in Jesus' priestly prayer for unity: "I do not pray that you take them out of the world but that you keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world iust as I am not of the world." The Gospel of John strongly em- phasized separation of the Christian from the world. In today's first reading that kingdom is described in another way: "His dominion is an everlasting dominion which will not be taken away and his kingdom is one that will not be corrupted." When Pilate again asks Jesus if he might be a king, Jesus boldly answers: " ' " I am a king and it is for this purpose that I came into the world -- to witness to the truth." It is therefore not only a kingdom of peace as said above but also a kingdom of truth. The truth is that revelation which Jesus brought from the Father. That is the witness that he must give and that his friends must give after him. These are the two lessons that we take from this gospel -- a kingdom of peace and a kingdom of truth. Each of these is difficult to live up to. The first requires a strong committment to non-violence in the achievement of the kingdom. The second re- quires the courage to announce and especially to live the revelation which Jesus brought us. He had no subjects to fight for him and forbade his friends to do so. He came to announce the truth, the revelation he heard from the Father. The King breathes the Spirit upon his friends, sends them out with the charge: "As the Father has sent me so do I send you" to bear witness to peace and to truth. Other readings for Sunday, Nov. 20, 1988: Daniel 7:13.14; Revelations 1:5.8 Vatican Letter 'Humanae Vitae:' oM enough for a generation gap By GREG ERLANDSON NC News Service VATICAN CITY (NC) -- Twenty years after "Humanae Vitae" was born amid con- troversy and protest, Pope Paul VI's famous encyclical on con- traception and marital love is old enough to have a generation gap. According to the en- cyclical's supporters, drawn to Rome for a series of conferences marking the anniversary, to- day's seminarians are significantly more ()pen to the church's teachings on sexuality and contraception than their predecessors. The real problem, they say, is not. o pp osition hut i g norance'. A whole new generation of young Catholics does not know what the fuss is all about. Three conferences held at the end of October and the begin- ning of November addressed "Humanae Vitae" from the point of view of moral theologians, bishops and students. Backers of the hurch's teaching, like Msgr. Carlo Caf- farra of the John Paul II Institute for Marriage and the Family and U.S. theologians Germain Gregorian University, agreed. Langridge said the con- the church teaches far Grisez and William May, fired Another one-time-doubter- ference grew out of his frustra- outweighs active dissent, traditional salvos at dissenting turned defender, Father Kiely tions with a moral theology according to those in the field. theologians and the havoc they said he has seen a "big change" course that ended without ever This ignorance involves not say has been wreaked upon the in the past 10 years in the at- having explained the difference only the church's reasons for church's teaching authority, titudes of the Gregorian's between natural family plan- forbidding contraception, but But several participants also theology students, ning and contraception., also its reasons for supporting struck a note of optimism, For Father Kiely, the opposi- Last March Langridge began natural family planning predicting that "thetimes, they tion to Pope Paul's pronounce- planning a seminar that would methods. are achanging." ment on artificial birth control "present the teachings of Father Robert Batule of the "The time is right fo a more was part and parcel of the 'Humanae Vitae' in a positive Diocese of Rockville Centre, open response to 'Humanae heady days of 1968, when way to those who will be en- N.Y., has helped prepare Vitae,'" said May, a theologian young people took to the streets gaged in pastoral ministries." dozens of young couples for at The Catholic University of and the sexual revolution was Unlike the other Rome con- marriage in the three years America, Washington. May was in full flower, ferences, Langridge's seminar since he has been ordained. On- e featured speaker at a Nov. Today people have lost the did not include attacks on ly three of those couples had 9-11 World Congress of Moral faith in technology that dissenters, ever heard of "Humanae Theologians, sponsored by characterized that period and "That's what we get endless- Vitae," he said. Msgr. Caffarra's institute and are "more sober" in their at- ly in our theology courses," he In an effort to get the word Opus Dei's Holy Cross titudes toward marriage, the said. Instead it focused on out, Father Batule not only Academic Center.. family and society, he said. scientific explanations of con- presents the church's position An early critic of the en- Those who argue that a new traception and natural family in his marriage preparation cyclical who subsequently generation of Catholics is turn- planning placed in the context courses, but preaches on it a became an ardent defender, ing toward the church's post- of the church's theology of well, including twice la,,:t May said U.S. seminarians to- tion point to a two-day con- sexuality, summer. day have a more open attitude ference in Rome in late October But if a new generation of In Nance Millar's book, that to the encyclical's message than for 350 seminarians and clergy and Religious are ready makes him a real rarity. those in the past. Religious on the church's sex- to enroll in Pope John Paul II's A counselor in the arch- "They see a lot of the pro- ual teachings, campaign on behalf of diocesan school system in blems" with contraception and What made the conference "Humanae Vitae," others say Sydney, Australia, Millar said its effect on society "that unusual was that it was they will have their work cut she cannotremembereverhear- weren't 'evident to their organized by Stephen out for them. ing a homily preached on the predecessors," he said. Langridge, an enterprising In the schools and churches encyclical. Jesuit Father Bartholomew English seminarianstudyingin and daily lives of average She said the continued Kiely, a professor at Rome's Rome. Catholics, ignorance of what $ee VATIC, ANpage15