It is the Feast of Christ the King, the final Sunday of the church’s liturgical year. All of today’s passages reflect on kingships—those of David, God and Jesus. Although Christians in America are far removed from any direct experience of a king, these passages can teach us about our own political life.

Whether Americans are pleased or in mourning over the results of the presidential election, I suspect that very few of us think that our politicians are characterized by a commitment to the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. Whatever a politician’s party affiliation, our media- and money-driven method of campaigning for national office invites politicians to use partial truth in the service of gaining or retaining power. We should not assume that politicians are opposed to the truth; it is simply too easy to make the truth instrumental to something else.

I believe that this attitude is present in Pilate’s question to Jesus, “What is truth?” Of course, it’s possible to see the question as the genuine intellectual inquiry of someone longing to know what is really true. It seems more likely, however, that this imperial representative listened to this obscure Jew’s commitment to understanding his kingship in terms of truth and found that commitment quaint, naive and largely harmless. From Pilate’s perspective, Jesus’ views held little threat for Rome.