Christ the King by Sister Mary Jane

untitledFEAST OF CHRIST THE KING  Adated from a commentary in Celebration Magazine Nov. 2001

The last Sunday of Ordinary Time is celebrated as the Solemnity of Christ the King.  A day we celebrate Jesus as a king.  But what kind of king?  A servant king, a non-violent king, a crucified king, a risen king.  In the gospel for this Feast cycle C, we hear the dialogue between Jesus and the criminal crucified with him.  It is evident that this dying criminal came to believe that Jesus is the one in whom the reign of the kingdom of God has become present and that he has the power to welcome into that reign all who turn to him for forgiveness and healing.   We are all familiar with the words of the crucified person that was put to music and sung as a mantra by the Taize Community.  “Jesus remember me when you come into your kingdom.”   Calling this request “the greatest testimony of faith in the gospel,” author and religious educator Alice Camille also observed that “just when Jesus never looked less a king and when his glory was obscured by bruises, a poor dying criminal begins to believe.  He saw no miracle; he heard no remarkable wisdom.  He beheld only the agonized body of one about to die and yet this man spoke to Jesus about his kingdom with reverent and trusting faith.”  In response, Jesus promises him salvation.  The innocent dying Jesus invited the criminal to repent, to convert to Jesus and in that faith he experienced salvation.  All throughout St. Luke’s gospel Jesus is pictured as mediator of God’s grace and forgiveness to outcasts.  In all his words and works Jesus manifested God’s bias toward sinners; and he continued to do so to his very last words and in the final saving work of his death.  Each time this gospel is proclaimed it should inspire confidence in the hearts of us sinners; forgiveness and salvation can be ours if we but follow the lead of the dying criminal and turn to Jesus in faith.  In this gospel, Jesus’ adversaries are portrayed by Luke as the ones who in their taunting identified him as “ the Messiah of God”(vv. 35,39) “the chosen one” (v. 35) “the king of the Jews” (vv.37,38).   In this feast we celebrate him under all those titles and, full of faith in Jesus’ power to save, we join our voices to that of the dying criminal and plead, “Remember me now that you have entered upon your reign.”

Mary Jane Vigil, OSB


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