Gospel Reflection for Feast of Christ the King – Year C – November 20th 2016
The people stayed there watching him. As for the leaders, they jeered at him. ‘He saved others,’ they said ‘let him save himself if he is the Christ of God, the Chosen One.’ The soldiers mocked him too, and when they approached to offer vinegar they said, ‘If you are the king of the Jews, save yourself’. Above him there was an inscription: ‘This is the King of the Jews’.
One of the criminals hanging there abused him. ‘Are you not the Christ?’ he said. ‘Save yourself and us as well.’ But the other spoke up and rebuked him. ‘Have you no fear of God at all?’ he said. ‘You got the same sentence as he did, but in our case we deserved it: we are paying for what we did. But this man has done nothing wrong. Jesus,’ he said ‘remember me when you come into your kingdom.’ ‘Indeed, I promise you,’ he replied ‘today you will be with me in paradise.’
The companions on the cross watched. Three men on death row, about to expire. The unrepentant thief, the repentant and the God-man.
One wanted to go back, the other to go forward. Jesus offers new life, not the old life again.
SOMEONE HEARD HIS WORDS
Someone heard his words, maybe Mary at the cross and the women, and the soldiers amazed on what he heard. To the end Jesus offers his life for God’s kingdom.
Two arms of the cross. Still reaching out in forgiveness, in an eternal promise.
Messages of mercy to the end. Mercy for people nobody wanted except on death row, in court, in jail, ones nobody liked, and condemned.
REMEMBERED EVER SINCE
Strange how they have been remembered ever since. Consoling many a sinner. There was a story that one of them welcomed people into paradise, as Jesus promised them, a sort of gatekeeper, and that Jesus looked out for the unrepentant one. Mercy in God is incomprehensible!
Referring to this gospel, Pope Francis says, “God’s grace is always greater than the prayer which sought it. The Lord always grants more than what he has been asked. You ask him to remember you, and he brings you into his Kingdom!” (November 2013). An encouraging thought for the ending of the Year of Mercy.
Father, forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.
Donal Neary SJ
Fr Donal Neary SJ is editor of the Sacred Heart Messenger