Our Lord Jesus Christ the King [C]
II Sam 5:1-3 + Col 1:12-20 + Lk 23:35-43
November 20, 2016
“‘Amen, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.’”
Very likely, the moment of your death will have something in common with Jesus’ death on Calvary, which we hear of in today’s Gospel. If you prayerfully consider what took place in this scene, you might gather something to help you prepare for that moment when your everlasting life will be judged by Christ the King.
Luke 23:35—“The people stood there watching….”
Who were these people? Where were they from? Why were they there at the top of Calvary? Were they there simply out of curiosity about Jesus, out of hatred of Him, or out of compassion? Surely there was a mix of people gathered there, just as in the world today people have different reactions to Christ and His Gospel. Even within an individual Christian’s soul, there is often a mixture of motives and feelings about following Christ. Sometimes we are passionate about the beliefs of our faith. At other times we may be fearful of the reactions we will draw from others for standing up for our faith. At other times we may be simply bored about anything that has to do with the Church.
Luke 23:38—“There was an inscription over [Jesus’] head: ‘This is the King of the Jews.’”
There were many who did not take this description of Jesus seriously. And in one sense, we might see their point, especially if we contrast the scene of Calvary with the scene of the First Reading, where David is anointed the King of all the Jewish people. Though there had been many Jewish kings before David, he was the first to unite the entire people under a solitary king.
How could this Jesus, dying on a cross, be descended from King David, much less have a right to his throne? The answer goes back once again to what sort of kingdom we believe Jesus came to earth to exercise. Does he want possession of all our earthly goods, or does he want possession of our spiritual souls?
Luke 23:39—“One of the criminals hanging in crucifixion blasphemed him, ‘Aren’t you the Messiah? Then save yourself and us.’”
Saint Luke, in telling us of this scene of Christ’s Passion and Death, turns from describing those in the crowd to those who are hanging near death. He focuses his lens, as it were, for a close-up on these three persons. First he tells us of the words of one of the criminals, who mocks Jesus even as he faces his own death.
Jesus, for his own part, does not choose to respond to this criminal’s mockery. Instead, the other criminal, whom tradition identifies as Saint Dismas, rebukes the first criminal. He comes to the point when he says that:
Luke 23:41—“…this man has done nothing wrong.’”
This fact is one that few people in this scene of Calvary are willing to admit: that Christ has done nothing wrong. So why did he allow Himself to be nailed to the Cross? Why was He willing to suffer the disgrace and humiliation of such a death? It all goes back to the fact that in His human life, Jesus was never His own prime concern. He suffered and died in order to open the gates of heaven to God’s children.
This selfless love is the power by which the Kingdom of God works and flourishes. This love for others shows us what sort of King we have in life. And if this is how He leads His life, we are surely subject to the same sort of life as subjects of Christ the King.