Today the scriptures for mass are in celebration of the Feast of Christ the King. The gospel reading today said that,”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 the King of the Jews, save yourself.” Above him there was an inscription that read, “This is the King of the Jews.”
Things sure aren’t what they seem to be on the surface of things sometimes. The rulers, the soldiers, and even one of the criminals that was dying beside Jesus all taunted him while he hung on the cross in excruciating pain. Can you imagine his humiliation? Jesus was more than likely crucifiedin order to add to his humiliation. What a horrible thing that would have been, to not even be shown common human decency, even during the dying process. How much worse could it have been? Satan seemed to have triumphed while Christ was being crucified. We know the end of the story now, but if we set that aside and look at just the time period Christ was being crucified, it would have seemed an utter defeat.
Jesus Christ is our King, because he debased himself, accepting humiliations and abuse for our sake. We all know that Jesus died on the cross because he loves us. It wasn’t nails that held Jesus to the cross, it was love. His love for all of mankind held him to the wood of the cross. Jesus accepted this horrible death of his own free will, so that we could be forgiven for our sins.
If Jesus could forgive the men who crucified him, then we can be assured that he can forgive us as well. Christ was from the lineage of King David, who was a murderer as well. The gospel today ends with the story of one of the criminals who died beside him, that Christ forgave from the cross too. The church “spruced up” his image and he is known as the good thief now, but he was also recorded in history as being a revolutionary, who would have killed people. Actually, the “good thief” became the first saint in the Catholic church though, and he is known as Saint Dismas today. But, it was because he acknowledged Jesus Christ as the son of God, with a kingship in heaven, that Saint Dismas was made a saint.
Today closes the Year of Faith and it is fitting that the readings for mass today have to do with the end of Jesus’ life too. People’s faith in Jesus was at it’s lowest point when he died, but it is darkest before the new light of day. Mary Magdalene still had faith in Jesus even when the worst thing that could happen, did. She found Jesus in the new light of Easter morning.
Our gospel reading for mass today gives the account of Jesus dying on the cross with a sign above him “King of the Jews”. But, Jesus didn’t become our King on the cross. He became our King when he rose from the dead on Easter morning. His victory over sin and death manifested itself on Easter morning. The cross would have meant nothing, if it wasn’t for Christ defeating sin and death and rising to new life.
Jesus is our King because when he was resurrected from the dead, he proved to all of mankind that his kingdom was not of this earth. Our Lord is the King of Heaven. He paid the price for our sins so we can go to heaven and live in his kingdom too, but the Lord also goes before us, leading us, and showing us the way to our eternal home. We need not fear the future, because Jesus has already passed this way before us.
May we have the courage follow in Christ’s footsteps. This is how we honor him as our King, by imitating his life and doing what he commanded us to do. “Love one another, as I have loved you.”
Sunday Mass Readings:
2 Sm 5: 1-3 / Ps 122: 1-2, 3-4, 4-5 / Col 1: 12-20 / Lk 23: 35-43