Homily for the Feast of Christ the King - Year C - Lk. 23:33,35-43


by

Canon Dr. Daniel Meynen
 
 

" When they came to the place which is called The Skull, there they crucified Jesus, and the criminals, one on the right and one on the left. And the people stood by, watching; but the rulers scoffed at him, saying, «He saved others; let him save himself, if he is the Christ of God, his Chosen One!» The soldiers also mocked him, coming up and offering him vinegar, and saying, «If you are the King of the Jews, save yourself!» There was also an inscription over him, «This is the King of the Jews.»


" One of the criminals who were hanged railed at him, saying, «Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us!» But the other rebuked him, saying, «Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? And we indeed justly; for we are receiving the due reward of our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.» And he said, «Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.» And he said to him, «Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.» "




Homily:


" When they came to the place which is called The Skull, there they crucified Jesus, and the criminals, one on the right and one on the left. And the people stood by, watching. "


For this feast of Christ the King of the Universe, on this last Sunday of the liturgical year, the Church proposes to us a Gospel that is violent, wild, impassioned. The Kingship of Christ has been disputed from its earliest days: shortly after he had appeared in this world, Christ the King was already being rejected and persecuted! After the Magi asked King Herod: "Where is the King of the Jews who has just been born?" (Mt. 2:2), that merciless despot massacred hundreds of little children: the first martyrs of the kingship of Christ!


Indeed, one must have much courage to recognize Jesus as King of the Universe... "The people stood by, watching," says Saint Luke. What crowd was this? Who were these people? Are they not the same people who, five days earlier, had acclaimed Jesus with the cry: "Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord!" (Lk. 19:38)? Indeed, they are the very same people... alas... The voices that cry out are the same, but the spirits have changed... How is this possible? Why such a reversal of the situation?


The reason for this is that the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Love, had not yet come upon them... They had not yet received the power from on high (cf. Lk. 24:49) that would allow them one day to testify to the kingship of Christ, even to the spilling of their own blood for love of his kingdom. Soon, on the day of Pentecost, this same crowd, or at least some part of it, will answer the call to conversion given by the Apostles, will repent for its cowardice, and will form the first groups of Christians who, under a single Spirit, will be "of one heart and soul" (Acts 4:32)!


" The rulers scoffed at him, saying, «He saved others; let him save himself, if he is the Christ of God, his Chosen One!» The soldiers also mocked him, coming up and offering him vinegar, and saying, «If you are the King of the Jews, save yourself!» There was also an inscription over him, «This is the King of the Jews.» "


Above the crucified Jesus was an inscription: "This is the King of the Jews." It is true: Jesus is the King of the Jews, and the first Christians were Jews. This means that, at its beginning, the Church formed, with Christ, not only a spiritual unity, but also a people, a nation, in the true sense of the word. Of course, from the time of the admission of non-Jews to the Church, it is spiritual unity that prevails, and the Kingdom of Christ, which could have been visible and tangible as a people and a nation, is relegated today to the invisible universe of hearts and souls.


Jesus said: "The kingdom of God is in the midst of you." (Lk. 17:21) This is the spiritual aspect of the Kingdom of God, which is much more important than its exterior and corporeal aspect. For, if the Jews, who acclaimed Jesus the King during his triumphal entry into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, had had the kingdom of God in them, then, without any doubt, with the help of the grace of the Holy Spirit, they would have proclaimed their faith in Jesus the King of the Jews five days later, at the foot of the Cross of Calvary! But the day will come when the Jews will convert and recognize Jesus as their Messiah and their King. Then, with all the Church, they will be able to acclaim Jesus the King of the Jews and the King of the Universe, as if they had been there, at the foot of the Cross of Calvary...


" One of the criminals who were hanged railed at him, saying, «Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us!» But the other rebuked him, saying, «Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? And we indeed justly; for we are receiving the due reward of our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.» And he said, «Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.» And he said to him, «Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.» "


If the Kingdom of God is within us, if God lives in our hearts, there is, however, no doubt that, at the Return of the Lord in Glory, this Kingdom will be revealed to the light of day: it will no longer be hidden, but rather it will brightly shine! But then, it will no longer only be the Kingdom of Love, but also the Kingdom of Justice! When each man and woman, when you and I will appear, face to face, before the King of the Universe, then each one will do justice to the Lord: each one will recognize whether or not he is a faithful subject of this great King.


Thus, one of the two criminals nailed to the crosses on either side of Jesus recognized that what he suffered at that moment was just: "We are receiving the due reward of our deeds." He admitted to having done evil, but the acceptance of his punishment proves that he was repentant and that he hoped from the bottom of his heart to obtain the forgiveness of God... So he addressed himself to Jesus, whom he recognized as King of the Jews, and said to him: "Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom!" This "good thief", known by the name of Saint Dismas, already does justice to the Kingdom of God and, with all his heart, under the influence of the Holy Spirit, calls for the Return of the Lord in Glory!


"Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise." The words of Jesus are unambiguous: Dismas is with him in Heaven! But, today, we too can hope for a similar reward. If we worthily communicate of the Body of Christ, then, we do justice to the Kingdom of God, we recognize Jesus as King of the Jews and King of the Universe, not only in our heart, but also in our entire person: already, we call for the return of the Lord Jesus!


May the Most Blessed Virgin Mary, present at the foot of the Cross of Calvary, help us to do justice to the Kingdom of God throughout the world! Amen!



To order the weekly homily immediately, click here