All of us possess two kinds of knowledge. There are some things we know on the basis of hearsay. Someone has told us. For example, I know or at least I am reasonably sure that the sun is approximately ninety three million miles from earth and I am also convinced that light travels at approximately one hundred and eighty six thousand miles per second. I would not know how to test these statements were it not for competent scientists telling me so and I believe them. Much of what you and I accept as truth fits into this category. But there is another kind of knowledge that belongs to a very different category. We know some things not simply on the basis of hearsay and what others have said but on the basis of experience. For example, I know that friendship can enrich the joy of living. I know this because I have seen it in the lives of others but most of what I know of the value of friendship comes from personal experience.
These two sources of knowledge – hearsay and experience – are the subject of today’s gospel. It tells of a conversation between Pilate and Jesus. The topic of the conversation was the allegation that Jesus claimed to be or aspired to become the king of the Jews. In one sense it was true. Jesus did aspire to reign in the hearts and lives of all people but in another sense it was not true at all. Jesus had no desire or intention to compete with Caesar for his earthly throne. Still the accusation had been made and Pilate felt compelled to investigate it. He put the question to Jesus point blank: “Are you the king of the Jews?” Jesus answered with a question of his own: “Are you asking me this of your own accord or have others been telling you about me?” I am convinced that Jesus would ask that same question of you and me today. It is not enough just to worship Christ the King. The only thing that will suffice is for each of us to make a serious commitment to him and his truth. In your life and mine, is Christ the king of hearsay or the king of experience? Fr John