THE SUNDAY GOSPEL: OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST, KING OF THE UNIVERSE
Luke 23: 35—43
The rulers sneered at Jesus and said,
“He saved others, let him save himself
if he is the chosen one, the Christ of God.”
Even the soldiers jeered at him.
As they approached to offer him wine they called out,
“If you are King of the Jews, save yourself.”
Above him there was an inscription that read,
“This is the King of the Jews.”
Now one of the criminals hanging there reviled Jesus, saying,
“Are you not the Christ?
Save yourself and us.”
The other, however, rebuking him, said in reply,
“Have you no fear of God,
for you are subject to the same condemnation?
And indeed, we have been condemned justly,
for the sentence we received corresponds to our crimes,
but this man has done nothing criminal.”
Then he said,
“Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.”
He replied to him,
“Amen, I say to you,
today you will be with me in Paradise.”
PASTOR’S REFLECTION by Father Mike Joly: OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST, KING OF THE UNIVERSE
This is a great Solemnity! Today we celebrate the feast of Christ, the King of the Universe! His kingship over all things is true whether we recognize Him or not, whether we bow down in awe or not.
Christ is so very the Eternal Son of God that His infinite power and greatness can go unnoticed by us as an ant climbing up a skyscraper is unaware.
There will always be two thieves living within the human race; the proud, self-righteous and unremorseful thief and the aware, repentant and humble thief. Which thief are you? Both of them hang on either side of the Christ King. The three crosses rise up before the crowd so that each of us can choose which kind of thief we are while we are in the presence of the King of the Universe. We are put into a position where we MUST choose one thief or the other and then to embody that choice and recognition.
St. Paul’s Letter to the Colossians so beautifully identifies the crucified One between the two thieves. Jesus is the image of the invisible God — in Him were created all things in heaven and on earth, the visible or invisible…He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together. He is the head of the Body, the Church…For in Him all the fullness was pleased to dwell and through Him to reconcile all things for Him” (Col 1 : 15—19). Yes, if it were not for Jesus Christ, the King of the Universe, nothing would be held together; all would cease to exist; nothing would be reconciled with God and the Church would be “headless.” Only an “Almighty King” would subject Himself to such suffering and torture capable of human beings. Any earthly king who is NOT almighty would never subject himself so, for fear of losing the fight. God does not lose the fight.
The jeers of the rulers and soldiers echo on the lips of so many in this modern generation. The unrepentant thief’s hard-heart seems to be contagious today. “He saved others, let Him save Himself”
(Luke 23:35). But that’s not who Jesus is! Jesus doesn’t need a savior. We do. His entire Self as God is on the mission of love to save us.
Only one of the two thieves is humbled by God’s great mercy and willingness to suffer in order to pay the price for our sins. Just one thief is welcomed into paradise. The Man of Mercy hanging next to him softened the heart of the thief, who couldn’t help but repent. There, hanging on a cross next to the King of the Universe, the one thief receives the love of paradise from Jesus which makes any past sins or suffering of no consequence.
Today, we the Catholic Church, complete the worldwide “Year of Faith.” The Holy Spirit has been available in special abundance this Year for all those who desire an increase in faith, for all those who would come home to the Lord in His Body the Church, for all who Jesus calls to a NEW EVANGELIZATION which begins with our own hearts being set afire. We praise our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, the King of the Universe! All belongs to Him especially, you!