CHRIST THE KING Solemnity (Thirty-fourth and Last Sunday in Ordinary Time)
Gospel: Luke 23: 35-43
“The people stood watching,” thus begins Lk 23, 35. Then there were the leaders who sneered at Jesus. Even one of the thieves crucified along with Jesus was among those who sneered at Jesus. Then there was that thief who dared to sympathize with Jesus. He went on to confess that he was sinful, Jesus was sinless. Finally, he had one of the most beautiful prayers ever offered to Jesus, “Jesus remember me when you come into your kingdom.”
Thus, there are four prominent types of characters appearing in the whole episode.
- The gallery people.
- The sneerers.
- The confessing thief, and
Life is so veered, that we could be playing any one of these roles depending upon the day.
A gallery is a safe place. You get to know what is happening; you enjoy the action from a safe distance. The gallery is the most crowded place on earth. They are there to enjoy the show. A gallery is a place for people with short memory; short memory by choice. So was the crowd at Mount Calvary. They wanted to witness the show. They would not involve unless there was a benefit. They forgot so easily that the man on the cross had captivated their imagination just a couple of days back. His words had inspired them. He had healed many of them. He had fed them on multiple occasions. He had brought their dear ones back to life. He celebrated many times with them. He rendered himself hungry, thirsty and tired just to be available for them. He travelled many extra miles for them. Yet, they choose to be at a safe distance. They preferred the safe gallery to the presence of Jesus.
Are you safe in the gallery?
“Save yourself!” cried those who crucified him, and those who plotted the crime. They were the authorities and the executioners. Much hasn’t changed ever since. Those who plot the ill are the most vociferous when sneering at the unfortunate victims crying, “save yourself!” There could be occasions in your life when you felt the same. Those who have contributed positively to a failure in your life are yelling at you to save yourself! But don’t forget to ask yourself if you have ever done the same. Some of the worst creators of poverty and famine keep yelling at the poor to save themselves. Some others break the borders and wage war against others, and hold the other responsible for the war. It is not the poor that are always responsible for poverty and famine. It is not the sick that are always responsible for their sickness. So, next time when you want to say, “save yourself!”, please hold your tongue back.
And there is a thief who dares to talk about defending Jesus. His fate was worse than that of Jesus; because his death on the cross was the end of the road, but Jesus had a kingdom awaiting. Even when everything was lost, he had the guts to stand with Jesus. How many of us dare to stand with Jesus at the risk of total isolation?
Man’s dignity is well revealed at his death. The way Jesus accepted his death reveals his royalty well. Jesus on multiple occasions shied away from the crowd that wanted to make him king by force. But in front of Pilot, he boldly accepted that he was king. He did not lose heart at the people for their apathy. He did not blame the traitor or the rest of the apostles who deserted him at the slightest provocation. Jesus proved himself at the cross. His cross proved and witnessed His royalty.
As we are entering the final week of the liturgical year, let us examine ourselves as to which group, we belong to.