Saturday, November 23, 2019

 

CHRIST THE KING

November 24, 2019 - CHRIST THE KING
[34th and Last Sunday in Ordinary Time]
Solemnity. White.

2 Sm 5: 1 – 3 / Col 1: 12 – 20 / Lk 23: 35 – 46

Originally instituted by Pope Pius XI in 1925 on the last Sunday of October, the Solemnity of Christ the King was transferred to the last Sunday of the liturgical year by St. Pope Paul VI in 1969.

1st Reading: 2 Sm 5: 1 - 3
All the tribes of Israel came to David at Hebron and said, "We are your bone and flesh. In the past, when Saul was king over us, it was you who led Israel. And Yahweh said to you, 'You shall be the shepherd of my people Israel and you shall be commander over Israel."

Before Yahweh, king David made an agreement with the elders of Israel who came to him at Hebron, and they anointed him king of Israel.

From the 2nd Reading: Col 1: 15 - 17
He is the image of the unseen God, and for all creation he is the firstborn, for in him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible: thrones, rulers, authorities, powers. All was made through him and for him. He is before all and all things hold together in him.

GOSPEL READING: Lk 23: 35 - 46
The people stood by, watching. As for the rulers, they jeered at him, saying to one another, "Let the man who saved others now save himself, for he is the Messiah, the chosen one of God!" The soldiers also mocked him and, when they drew near to offer him bitter wine, they said, "So you are the king of the Jews? Free yourself!" Above Jesus there was an inscription in Greek, Latin and Hebrew, which read, "This is the King of the Jews."

One of the criminals hanging with Jesus insulted him, "So you are the Messiah? Save yourself, and us as well!" But the other rebuked him, saying, "Have you no fear of God, you who received the same sentence as he did? For us it is just: this is payment for what we have done. But this man has done nothing wrong." And he said, "Jesus, remember me, when you come into your kingdom." Jesus replied, "Truly, you will be with me today in paradise.."

It was about noon. The sun was hidden and darkness came over the whole land until mid-afternoon; and at that time the curtain of the Sanctuary was torn in two. Then Jesus gave a loud cry, "Father, into your hands I commend my spirit." And saying that, he gave up his spirit.

REFLECTION
We have for our Gospel reading today the story of the crucifixion itself. It is rather strange that the scene of the crucifixion is the best access to an understanding of Jesus' kingship.

When Jesus stands shackled and beaten before the people, clad in a purple mantle, crowned with thorns and holding a mock scepter of reed, Pilate says: "Here is your king," and without being aware of it, Pilate speaks the truth. Jesus confirms this truth: "Yes, I am a king.. For this I was born and for this I came into the world."

Again without knowing it, all those who mock him give the right answer when they say: "He saved others." But when they add: "He cannot save himself," they are utterly mistaken, for Jesus does not have to save himself. In royal freedom he has declared his solidarity with all people who suffer, with all who are humiliated and beaten, with all who are marginalized. It is to save these people that he came and that he shows himself as the Son of God.

We know how Jesus' life ends but it would seem as if Jesus has taken the gamble and lost. The world rejects him. Of course, we know differently. We know that only some reject him and that even their rejection is turned to the advantage of the whole of humanity. If this great feast of Christ the King is a recapitulation of the fundamental beliefs about Jesus, we have, in the touching encounter between the man we call the good thief and Jesus, a beautiful expression of what we really want to say to him: "Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom." It is a simple phrase, but it has the ability to capture just what we want to express ourselves.

If we were to make no other prayer to Jesus, we could not do better than to make these words of the good thief our very own: "Lord, remember me when you come into your kingdom." And in a message of hope, Jesus responds to the good thief: "Today you will be with me in paradise." In uttering these words, Jesus confirms his kingship. The kingship of Jesus consists in forgiving sin and in granting eternal life.

Jesus testifies that his kingship is not of this world. But it can begin in this world and it is capable of changing society to its very foundations. This kingdom begins wherever people begin to live according to the style of life of Jesus. As today's Preface says, it is a kingdom of truth and life, a kingdom of holiness and grace, a kingdom of justice, love and peace. All these we still badly need today.

It is no mistake that the Church chooses these words: "Today you will be with me in paradise" to be among the very last words of the Gospel on the very last Sunday of the year. These words which are the fulfillment of all we could ever want, all we could ever hope for, ring in our ears. And we want to cry out with the very same words of the people who welcomed Jesus into Jerusalem: "Hosanna in the highest, blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord. Hosanna in the highest."

FINALLY, we pray for one another, for those who have asked our prayers and for those who need our prayers the most.

Have a good day!

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