Daily Reflection – Nov 20, 2016
Sunday 20 November 2016
First Reading: 2 Samuel 5:1-3
Let us go rejoicing to the house of the Lord
Second Reading: Colossians 1:12-20
Gospel Reading: Luke 23:35-43
Today’s Feast: Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe (Solemnity)
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.”
Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom. (Luke 23:42)
At the Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, DC, you will see an immense mosaic entitled Christ in Majesty above the main altar. The mosaic portrays Jesus in towering strength, flexing a muscular right arm. Everything about this image says “kingly.” Even the inscription reads, “Christ Reigns, Christ Rules. Eternal Victor, Eternal King.”
This is the kind of image that probably comes to mind when we think of Jesus as a king—and rightly so! Jesus does indeed reign at the right hand of God the Father. Every knee is meant to bow before him, and “every tongue confess” his Lordship (Philippians 2:10-11). Even Jesus talks about his return in “glory,” accompanied by “all the angels” as he sits “upon his glorious throne” (Matthew 25:31).
All this is well and good, but look at the Gospel passage chosen for today’s celebration. Jesus is crucified like a common criminal. He is hanging between two thieves, while many of Israel’s religious leaders jeer at him. What a humiliating image! Why would the Church select such a surprising reading?
This is the great paradox of the Christian life. Jesus shows himself worthy of our obedience, not because he is proud and powerful, but because he is a servant. He shows himself to be lordly, not through powerful armies and a gleaming throne, but through the beautiful dignity of self-giving love. He is humble, interceding for those who mock him. He is merciful, forgiving even his torturers. He is generous, promising paradise to a repentant thief. He is Jesus, the Son of God, who did only what his Father told him to do.
Today, join Mary at the foot of the cross and behold your King. Gaze upon him as he offers up his life for you. Look at him, and let your heart rejoice.
“Jesus, eternal King, you are mighty and merciful. I surrender to you. Come, and reign in my heart.”