The Church closes the year with the Feast of Christ the King. The kingdom of God is the kingdom of the Father’s only son, Jesus, whom we contemplate today on the cross, giving His life for the world. He is mocked and treated like an evil man, an impostor, a total fraud. He dies among thieves and one of them has a most unusual attitude of faith and hope in a situation of utter despair. Isn’t it quite amazing to see the way the Gospel today presents us the kingship of Our Lord? We’re privy to a theological discussion of two thieves rightfully condemned to die for their misdeeds. The faith of the “good thief” is so impressive because he affirms the absolute innocence of Jesus and from there he leaps into a prayer: “remember me when you come into your kingdom”. If one was a cynic one could say: “that was not impressive, it was rather easy, for this man had nothing to lose”. In reality, without faith and hope, he also had nothing to gain. There is no motivation to entertain a cordial dialogue with Jesus unless this man experienced something about this “innocent” man that left the door open to that possibility that He just might be a King!
Wouldn’t it be easy for us to join this King and be a part of His kingdom if we could see for ourselves all the benefits that come with membership? Are we not still today in the situation of the “good” thief, confessing his faith in dire circumstances? We still die, we still suffer, the world is still a place of good and evil, and there are so many ways one could challenge the notion that Christ governs this world of sin and death. We could easily go the route of the “other” thief and say: “Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us as well”. All those who have submitted to Christ in their hearts have discovered that He is indeed the King of heaven and earth. The human heart is made to submit to this man, the Son of God. To find Him on the cross, the cross of our shame and sin, is not a demerit to Him, rather, it is the very sweetness of His rule over us. We may very well not like it and even reject Him, but He has chosen to rule from within our conscious choice to belong to Him. In whatever situation you are in you can come to Christ and although you are desperate, convinced of your own destruction, Jesus will open up the gates of paradise: “Today you will be with me in Paradise”!
Fr Sean Mary