FEASTING ON THE WORD
"If you meditate on the Scriptures it will appear to you in its brilliant splendor." ―St. Pio of Pietrelcina
The Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe (C)
2 Samuel 5:1-3 | Psalm 122:1-2, 3-4, 4-5 | Colossians 1:12-20 | Luke 23:35-43
The concept of king and kingdom is at the very heart of Jesus’ message to us. He came to inaugurate among us the Kingdom of God. In today’s Scripture readings we are given the true image of a leader.
A man dies and goes to heaven. As he arrives there an angel is waiting for him to give him a tour. They enter through the golden gates and go inside a big bright building. There were a big number of clocks running at different speeds and the man was puzzled. He asked the angel what they were. The angel said: "Here are the clocks of every country, they measure corruption. The more corrupt the country is the faster it's clock goes!" Amazed, the man wanders around the room but he notices something and asks the angel: "Where is the Philippine clock?" And the angel says: "Oh, God is using it as a cooling fan!"
In our First reading, we see all the tribes anointing David as king over Israel. David was chosen to be a king who would act as shepherd of the people — to protect and care for the flock, assuring their life and safety. Kings are supposed to be shepherds. They are supposed to provide trustworthy leadership and tender care for those in their charge. David’s kingship was not about personal power but about guaranteeing that the people of Israel would live and proclaim the power of God.
During the Revolutionary War, there was a pastor named Peter Miller who lived in Ephrata, Pennsylvania and enjoyed the friendship and respect of George Washington. In that same town lived a man named Michael Widman, a troublemaker who did all he could to oppose and humiliate the pastor, including spit in his face, trip him when he walked by and once even punched him. One day, Michael Widman was arrested for treason and sentenced to die. Peter Miller traveled fifty miles on foot to Valley Forge to plead for the life of the traitor. “No Peter,” George Washington said. “I cannot grant you the life of your friend.” “My friend!?” exclaimed the old preacher. “He’s the most bitter enemy I have; but I don’t believe he is guilty of treason.” “What?” cried Washington. “You’ve walked fifty miles to save the life of an enemy? That puts the matter in a different light. I’ll grant your pardon.” And he did. Peter Miller took Michael Widman back home to Ephrata–no longer an enemy, but a friend.
To enter the Kingdom is to experience being brought from darkness into light and we gain our freedom through the forgiveness of our sins. In his letter to the Colossians, the apostle Paulspeaks of God reconciling all through Christ: “For in him all the fullness was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile all things for him, making peace by the blood of his cross through him, whether those on earth or those in heaven.”
I like the movie, "The Shack" directed by Stuart Hazeldine but for me, the closing of the novel by William Young with the same title is really more beautiful. Mackenzie: "Does that mean," asked Mack, "that all roads will lead to you?" Jesus: "Not at all," smiled Jesus as he reached for the door handle to the shop. "Most roads don't lead anywhere. What it does mean is that I will travel any road to find you.”
The last Gospel reading for this liturgical year ends with Christ’s passion on the cross, as he converses with the repentant thief. In his final hour a crucified man, referred to as Dismas in the apocryphal writing Gospel of Nicodemus, recognizes the kingship of Jesus. He fully acknowledges his own guilt, but sees that Jesus is totally innocent of any wrongdoing. And he turns to Jesus, addressing him with a strange intimacy, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your Kingdom.” Once again, Jesus sees not the stereotype nor even the vicious past of this man but only the repentant individual before him here and now. That is enough: “I promise you, today you will be with me in paradise.” This is neither a scene of power for himself nor glory from a human perspective. It is in his utter helplessness that Jesus is recognized as king, and in this moment Jesus thinks not of himself but of another. We see here a king who shows us what leadership looks like: love, service, inclusivity, forgiveness, reconciliation. There is no length to which God does not go to love, to reconcile all to God. Jesus, our King. always chooses us. He forgives and and calls us to wholeness and holiness. <enrique,ofs>
Jeff Jacinto, PhD, DHum