The Nazareth Page - A gospel meditation for your home
November 24, 2019 – Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe - Luke 23:35-43
It is the last Sunday of the Church Year. To grasp the importance of this Sunday, imagine yourself standing at the side of the road, watching a long parade pass by. There are decorated floats, marching bands and if you are watching the annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade, large inflated figures sail by above you in the wind. Strong ropes held by muscular men keep Snoopy and his friends from straying away from the parade route. The parade culminates with the arrival of Santa Claus on perhaps the most decorated float of all. Small children wonder, “Is that the real Santa?”
The Church Year is like a parade with its many major feasts paced between an assortment of days dedicated to various canonized saints. The end of the year, like the end of the parade, is carefully selected to make a major point. It is always the feast of Christ the King, a feast created not that long ago when nations liked to “parade” their kings. The Church responded with a royal feast of its own.
Today’s gospel, however, places before us an image of Christ that stands in sharp contrast to various depictions of earthly kings. He is not clothed in richness and power, but as one hanging on a throne of torture. We know that image of Jesus. Some call it “a sign of contradiction” and surely it is. The Creator of the universe is placed into the role of a criminal, a despised victim of human narrowness and fear. Yet, we Christians look at the crucifix and boldly say, “This is our king.” He is our Lord and Redeemer and he is never more himself than when he found himself hanging from the cross. Most, but not all his followers ran away to hide. His mother and only one disciple stayed with him. We might ask ourselves with some justification, who wants a king like this?
Pope Francis often speaks about the crucifixion of Jesus. Here is a sampling of what he said in a homily on Palm Sunday during the first year he was made pope. “Jesus on the cross feels the whole weight of the evil (of the world), and with the force of God’s love, he conquers it. He defeats it with his resurrection. This is the good that Jesus does for us on the throne of the cross. Christ’s cross embraced with love never leads to sadness, but to joy, the joy of having been saved and of doing a little bit of what he did on the day of his death.”
Our king, Jesus Christ, gave and continues to give his all for us. His love and mercy are without limit. No other king even came close to his boundless love. Give thanks for his great love and try to be like Jesus in our own small part of the world.
©David M. Thomas, PhD
REFLECTION QUESTIONS: Download this simple process to Prepare for Sunday using the Observe, Judge, Act Method of Review of Life.