|As we close the Year of Luke (Year C) in the Lectionary Cycle on this Feast of Christ the King, we are invited to ponder one of the most poignant gospel passages – to enter deeply into the mystery of salvation and to recognize that Jesus’ Lordship or authority in our lives must first of all arise from gratitude.
Three mysteries of faith come into focus here that call upon our prayerful attention:
The Incarnation: This is the incredible mystery wherein the Creator Lord enters into the creation in its most vulnerable and humble reality and submits to the profound limitations of the creation (time, place, inexorable change, death, etc.) as one with no authority other than the evocation of loving care that vulnerability brings. All creation is good by virtue of being created from God’s Being through the Word spoken. But through human choice sin entered the world. Now the Word of God takes on human life and re-consecrates creation by a life of obedience to the Father – always grateful to the Father and always honoring the Father’s Will. Today’s first reading from the Second Book of Samuel says that the leaders of the tribes of Israel gathered to assert to David that, as his bone and flesh, they call upon him to lead them as king – one like them but given all the authority in their tribes, so that the good of all can be accomplished. Of course, as a descendent of David on both sides of his human family – Jesus is also the bone and flesh, not only of Israelites but of all humanity. By his victory in the battle against evils that assail all humans, Jesus has the authority that we need in our perfect leader to bring about the absolute common good for all creation. Jesus, as one of us in flesh and life, places a demand on us for our sakes and for all creation’s sake to cooperate with him as our Leader and Lord.
Salvation: Jesus’ role as savior from all evil and destruction is made plain in the second reading from Paul’s Letter to the Colossians. Quoting a hymn, popularly sung in the early Christian Churches, Paul asserts that all creation emerges through the authority of God’s spoken Word: “All things were made through Him and for Him,” and through that that same Word the fullness of life dwells and all things were reconciled. The very brokenness of the created order, brought about by human determination to attempt to be god rather than worship Yahweh, is healed and repaired for those who re-enter the Reign of God. If we want to live in the place of those saved, we look to Jesus to grant us entry into the Kingdom.
The Paschal Mystery of Transfiguration: The Father willed that Jesus would be obedient in all things to the Father – as the first parents had not been obedient. In the face of abuse, torture and humiliation, Jesus chose fidelity to the Father’s Mercy and refused anger or revenge of any kind. In today’s Gospel passage from Luke’s account of the Passion, we hear that the taunting and violence toward Jesus is carried to the last moment by one of the tortured men hanging for his crimes near Jesus. Yet the other, also a violent and guilty criminal, turns to Jesus and begs to be re-membered. The faith of the “good thief” speaks the faith of every sinner who, in God’s mercy, recognizes the possibility of forgiveness and gives his life to seek it – even imperfectly. It is in this willingness to allow God’s grace to reveal one’s own choices for evil, and the suffering they have caused, that the sinner has the courage to ask to be remembered – to be “membered” again among God’s own. God’s Spirit pours forth from the wounded heart of Christ to transfigure the sinner into a participant in Christ’s own Body. Thus, do members of the human family come home to God’s reign.
To recognize and honor the Kingship of Christ is to know our humanity in all humility and gratitude. It is to receive the gift of salvation from one like us in all things but sin, and it is to be drawn so close to Christ’s suffering in our lives that we can ask through suffering to be re- membered – placed with Christ in the Reign of perfect mercy and everlasting joy.