Gospel and Reflection 20.11.2022
“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.”
Solemnity of Jesus Christ, King of the Universe!
This is the last Sunday of the Church year. Next Sunday is the First Sunday of Advent.
When we say Jesus is a king, we mean a few things.
1. He is our Shepherd. As our Shepherd He desires to lead us as a loving father would. He wants to enter our lives personally, intimately and carefully, never imposing Himself but always offering Himself as our guide. The difficulty with this is that it’s very easy for us to reject this kind of kingship. He wants us to come to Him for everything and to become dependent upon Him always. But He will not impose this sort of kingship upon us. We must accept it freely and without reservation. Jesus will only govern our lives if we freely surrender ourselves over.
2 Jesus wishes for His Kingdom to begin to be established in our world. As King, He calls us to establish His Kingship by seeing to it that His truth and law is respected within civil society. All civil law ultimately gains its authority from Christ alone since He is the one and only Universal King.
3. Many do not recognise Him as King, so what about them? Should we “impose” God’s law upon those who do not believe? The answer is both yes and no. First, there are some things we cannot impose. For example, we cannot force people to go to Mass each Sunday. This would hinder one’s freedom to enter into this precious gift. We know Jesus requires it of us for the good of our souls, but it must still be embraced freely. However, there are some things that we must “impose” upon others. The protection of the poor and vulnerable as examples must be “imposed.” The freedom to practice our faith openly (religious liberty) within any institution must be “imposed” also. At the end of all time, Jesus will return to Earth in all His glory and He will then establish His permanent and unending Kingdom. At that time, all people will see God as He is. His law will become one with “civil” law. Every knee will bend before the great King and all will know the truth. At that time, true justice will reign and every evil will be corrected. What a glorious day that will be!
Finally, consider for a few moments, the second criminals words at the end of today’s Gospel reading. Read and read them again. Is this not the criminal humbly repenting – asking to be remembered in Jesus’ kingdom. Jesus replied:- “Today you will be with me in Paradise”. Are these not the words that we all want to hear. Are these words not the ultimate goal of everything we do.
Most solemn Lord, You are the sovereign King of the Universe. You are the Lord of all. Come reign in my life and make my soul Your holy dwelling place. Lord, come transform our world and make it a place of true peace and justice. May Your Kingdom come! Jesus, I trust in You.