By Tinnah dela Rosa
If you were asked today, “What is the truth?” how would you respond?
Some perhaps would make a reference to what is factual – something one can verify and observe. Some would underline the relativity of truth as it corresponds to their context and beliefs. Some would claim that we have no capacity to know fully the truth. After all, in this day of digital revolution and social media we have persons who resort to inventing, exaggerating, or even re-writing the truth. It is no wonder why some may not know how to answer the question at all.
It is no longer easy to discern what is truth from lies in our world full of suffering, pain, indifference, loss, war, and greed. What aggravates matters is that even our human leaders whom we expect to point us towards life’s virtues sometimes become the very bearers of controversy, half-truths and falsehoods.
We Filipinos tend to instinctively look up to a great leader, especially when this leader defends the weak and the oppressed. Being natural hero-followers, we gravitate towards leaders whom we believe are worth following.
Many people today become easy prey to believing in fake news because as they look for people to look up, they inadvertently place their trust and admiration on their icons and heroes in the movies, music or politics. They copy their idol’s hairstyle, buy the brands they promote, mimic their values and readily follow their lead by campaigning for their idol’s brand of “truth”. How many, however, of these idols are truly leaders who speak the truth and are worthy of our full commitment?
This Sunday we celebrate Christ as our King in a vast ocean of human kings and leaders. Christ the King as a solemnity is a culmination of an entire liturgical year and this year Jesus’ declares in the Gospel that he came to “testify to the truth” (John 18:37). Over the past liturgical year, we have gradually deepened our knowledge of who Christ is and how he testified to the truth.
Unlike many other human leaders or kings, we see in the gospel a King who clearly knows how to use his power and influence – by choosing to be faithful to his mission of testifying to the truth. Jesus is truly our Divine bayani (hero), who became incarnate to fulfill the mission He had from His Father (Jn 5:30). He came “to bring glad tidings to the poor, to proclaim liberty to captives, recovery of sight to the blind, and release to prisoners” (Lk 4:18). Christ made God’s Kingdom real and present by His teaching and miracles (Mt 7:29). Christ is the One who gathers sinners and outcasts into the compassionate arms of God. He teaches that those who wish to be the greatest must be the servant of all and that we experience the fullness of life in laying down our life for others. Furthermore, He assures us that all shall be well in the end for He has already triumphed over evil. This is what makes Jesus, our Cristo Rey, God’s only Son made-man, so unlike other human leaders.
With his heart ever turned to God to bring about an authentic, just and compassionate kingdom, Christ brings clarity to our understanding of what it means to be fully human and how to respect the dignity of every human life.
Christ’s life also draws us into a greater awareness of our own self-identity as followers of Christ. To know Jesus means to be committed to following Him and being His disciple. But this call to committed discipleship is also a call to build God’s Kingdom on earth. Following Him is our loving response and we can do this by working with Him in His mission of making God’s Kingdom of love, peace and justice real in our lives.
To participate in the building of the reign of God, let us go beyond merely listening to Christ’s truth but also make His truth our way of life. After all, Christ is King not of a physical kingdom but of a community whose behavior ought to be aligned with his life and ministry.
Jesus awaits our loving response to His invitation. If we do respond, we are assured that He can help us become what we could never become alone. May the truth you feel moved to testify be more and more aligned with the truth of Christ’s very life.
Dear Lord, on this Solemnity of Christ the King, may we all learn to fall in love with Christ, to listen faithfully to the voice of Christ and act on the truth that he reveals. Inspire us to help the oppressed and powerless share in the peace and justice of Christ’s Kingdom. Align our hearts and actions more closely with the life of Christ that we may make His options our own and work towards building His Kingdom here on earth. Amen.