FEAST OF CHRIST THE KING
First Reading (2 Sam 5: 1-3):
David was anointed King of Israel
“And the people stood by, watching: but the leaders scoffed at him, saying, ‘He saved others; let him save himself if he is the Messiah of God, his chosen one!’ The soldiers also mocked him, coming up and offering him sour wine, and saying.’If you are the King of the Jews, save yourself.” (Lk 23: 35-37)
Today is the feast of Christ the King. However, all the words used in the Readings of today describe a person who suffered and died, a ‘criminal’ who was nailed to the cross, a ‘sinner.’ Even the criminal who was nailed to the left of Jesus insulted him disrespectfully saying, “Are you not the Messiah? Save yourself and us.” (Lk 23:29)”
Perhaps the criminal on the left still had a glimmer of hope. He thought, since we three were crucified together, we are in the ‘same boat;’ and if we are in the same boat we can help each other to together reach the opposite shore of freedom and happiness. He may have heard many things about this mysterious man, not only that his preaching attracted people, but that he had performed deeds that astonished the people. For example, he had fed five thousand people with five loaves and two fish, he had caused the blind to see and the dumb to speak, cleansed lepers and expelled demons, raised the dead to life. He had walked on the billowing waves and calmed the storm at sea. The crowds admired him, people in power feared him. He was indeed an extraordinary person! The criminal on the left thought he could dare to hope. If this man really is the Messiah, could he not save himself and them too?
So he waited and waited. He waited to be taken down from the cross and to be freed. But the moments went by and the crowds continued to ridicule and shout at him. Meanwhile the one who called himself the Messiah seemed to grow weaker and weaker. It seemed he would die soon, like a lamp running out of oil. He could not save himself, and of course he could not save others either. He had been fooled, it was all a big joke.
From hope to despair, from despair to anger, he could endure it no longer. He thought, the one who called himself the Messiah is a big liar. His preaching was nonsense, his miracles were all an illusion, tricks that all magicians knew how to do. He certainly is not the Messiah nor the Savior our ancestors have waited for these thousands of years. He cannot save himself nor anyone else. It has all been one massive deceit.
But the mocking words of the criminal on the left led the criminal on the right to speak more fairly, “We indeed have been condemned justly for we are getting what we deserve for our deeds, but this man has done nothing wrong.” (Lk 23:41). Though Christ would die soon, he truly was a king, Lord of the universe. He was a king who had the bearing of a king, his spirit could not be overshadowed by the present suffering and failure. Heavenly strength and spirit would be revealed in the disintegration of his body or even in his death. The criminal on the right intuitively recognized Jesus' identity. He was drawn to Jesus by Jesus' disposition and personality. So with great fervor he said to Jesus .”Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” (Lk 23: 42)
The faith of the criminal on the right was indeed great. He was expressing faith in a person who was about to die, who had failed, who had no hope for the future other than hope itself. It was truly a deep faith expressed in the words, “though I do not see, yet I believe.” We can really say that the criminal on the right put himself and all that he possessed entirely into the hands of Jesus. Jesus immediately answered him and rewarded him with eternal life, “Truly I tell you, this day you will be with me in Paradise.” (Lk 23: 43)
Leaders of the masses, the criminal on the left, the one on the right, no matter who they are, all ‘perceived’ or ‘got in touch’ with Jesus from a different perspective. Each assessed Jesus in a different way, even contradicting each other. This fulfilled the prophecy of Simeon made many years before, “This child is destined for the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be opposed.” (Lk 2: 34).
The prophets of old had to shed their blood. King David could not have a place before King Saul. How then could he who was the Prophet of prophets, the King of kings, have a different fate?
If the destiny of Christ the King was like that, should not we who are servants of Christ the King fare the same? “Servants are not greater than their master. If they persecute me, they will persecute you.” (Jn 15: 20). This then is the kind of disposition we who serve Christ the King today must have.
We faithful who want to joyfully celebrate the feast of Christ the King today must be prepared to walk courageously the path of Christ the King, which is a path of the Cross.