Jesus answered, “My kingdom does not belong to this world. If my kingdom did belong to this world, my attendants [would] be fighting to keep me from being handed over to the Jews. But as it is, my kingdom is not here.” John 18:36.
My reward is not in this world.
My ultimate goal is not of this world.
My hope is not in this world.
If they were, I would utilize every ounce of energy, all my strength, and every resource to protect them.
But, as it is, I am after a much greater reward. I am hunting much better game. So I am content to let the pleasures, benefits and comforts of this world slip away.
I don’t claim any theological support for this notion. But as I was praying the Scriptural Rosary this morning, I heard the Gospel conversation between Jesus and Pontius Pilate when Jesus told Pilate that His kingdom was not of this world. And as I listened, I heard the words Jesus said in a different light.
I heard, “I am not invested in this world, so why put enormous efforts in retaining its gains?”
I was recently traveling in west Africa. As I’ve noted before, I am not always the greatest traveler especially in the transition days which have the highest potential for things going badly—those days of travel and adjustment to new surroundings. In those times I am most vulnerable to fears and anxieties, and I’m particularly susceptible to what-if-itis, the inflammation of that part of the imagination that conjures up horrible hypotheticals.
I have to admit: a major part of any fear of mine, especially fears of my earthly demise, is the question of legacy: what if no one finds me or my body? What if no one knows I died? What if no one remembers me? What if I am left rotting in a hole and no one knows where to find me?
In the past, when facing such fears, I have found great relief in prayer and particularly in praying to His Mother, Our Mother. But on this last trip, I added a twist, a new attitude when praying: I thought, “whatever happens to me, He has something much better for me. If no one remembers me, He still holds me. I live for Him.”
That’s not completely accurate. I didn’t so much think these words as much as I held the attitude those words represent, a sense of faith and hope. And when I added this twist to my prayers, I felt more than peace. I felt joy. I felt bolstered by the Spirit.
And so, when Pilate asks Jesus, “Are you the King of the Jews?”, I wonder if Pilate is taunting Jesus: “where are your loyal subjects now? Who will come to rescue you?”
And when Jesus responds with “my kingdom is not here”, I wonder if He is encouraging us to say to our tormentors, “I don’t need assistance to keep my toehold on this world. My reward will be greater in Heaven.”