"If a commission by an earthly king is considered a honor, how can a commission by a Heavenly King be considered a sacrifice?" — David Livingstone
Gospel text (Lk 23:35-43): The people stood by watching. As for the rulers, they jeered at him, saying to one another, «Let the man who saved others now save himself, for he is the Messiah, the chosen one of God!». The soldiers also mocked him and when they drew near to offer him bitter wine, they said, «So you are the king of the Jews? Free yourself!». For above him was an inscription which read, «This is the King of the Jews».
One of the criminals hanging with Jesus insulted him, «So you are the Messiah? Save yourself and us as well!». But the other rebuked him, saying, «Have you no fear of God, you who received the same sentence as he did? For us it is just: this is payment for what we have done. But this man has done nothing wrong». And he said, «Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom». Jesus replied, «Truly, you will be with me today in paradise».
Today's Gospel makes us raise our eyes to the cross on which Christ is in agony on Calvary. Here we see the Good Shepherd giving up his life for his flock. And, there up high is the sign that reads, «This is the King of the Jews» (Lk 23,38). This man who is suffering so horribly whose face has been so disfigured, is the King? Could it be possible? The good thief, one of the two men condemned at each side of Jesus, understands. He says with faith, «Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom» (Lk 23,42). Jesus' reply is consoling and certain, «Truly, you will be with me today in paradise»(Lk 23,43).
Yes, we profess that Jesus is King. “King” with a capital “K”. Nobody could ever be at such a level of royalty. The Kingdom of God is not of this world. It is a Kingdom that is entered through Christian conversion. A Kingdom of truth and life, a Kingdom of holiness and grace, a Kingdom of justice, love and peace. A Kingdom that is born from the Blood and water that pours from Jesus' side.
Those of us who desire to follow Him in our lives have answered the big question about reception or rejection. In doing so we, being of His Kingship, are meant to be, sent to be, yes, persons who are “experiences”. We are of the provocative King and of His ways. We make choices which may provoke questions or wonderings in the minds of others. We are “unusual” in how we relate with others, with injustices, with pains, losses, tragedies. We are not vanilla, we are “Salt of the Earth” and “Pepper” in the Soup”.
Jesus as King did catch the attention of all who encountered Him. He was the Servant of God Who served God’s people even to His death. Our entering His Kingdom follows His ways of catching people’s attention so as to ask themselves about the “Why” of our ways. He was an “experience”. We all are ordained by our being baptized into His Kingdom, to be an “experience” of Grace by just showing up.
«The Kingdom of God is amongst you» (Lk 17,21 We should live in the Kingdom now with holiness and we should be witnesses to the charity that testifies the authenticity of faith and hope.
“Viva Christo Rey - Long live Christ the King!" (the last words of Blessed Miguel Pro, who died as a martyr, executed on the firing squad by federal soldiers on November 23, 1927 in Mexico.)