Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the universe
Gospel according to Saint Luke (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”.
Solemnity of Christ, King of the universe. We would expect a most luminous gospel passage, and instead we are in front of a rather shadowy text… Amazement before the unexpected is the most appropriate feeling to enter the heart of today’s feast, amazement of those who know they will not be able to understand the unlimited mystery of the Son of God. Around the cross are all those who Jesus has found in the three years of His public life. And here, in front of a Word nailed to the wood, the hearts´ secrets are revealed. The people who heard and follow the master of Galilee, who witnessed the miracles, are looking with a thousand questions in their hearts, the disappointment and the feeling that everything ends like this. The leaders speak with derision and at the same time say something authentic about the person of Jesus, the Christ. They ignore God’s logic, even though they are faithful doers of the Hebrew law. That scornful invitation: “Save yourself”… shows the purpose of their actions: salvation is gained by observing God’s commandments. Jesus is convicted of being king of the Jews. A fault that really is not. Although the leaders have tried to deny Christ´s majesty in every way, the truth comes out by itself: This is the king of the Jews. A king capable of being considered by all as a miscreant as long as they do not reject their love for man, a majesty that crosses the centuries and asks the eyes of passers-by to welcome the newness of the Gospel. Proximity to the cross distances or approaches. One of the two thieves insults, provokes, and mocks Jesus. The goal is always the same: save yourself and also us. Salvation is invoked as an escape from the cross, but is salvation barren and empty of life. The other culprit, being close to Jesus, regains the holy fear and makes his discernment: he sees an innocent crucified and recognizes, beyond appearances, the life of the eternal kingdom. At the foot of that throne of glory, he asks for a remembrance in Christ´s kingdom, who thus welcomes His first subject, his first conquest: “Truly, you will be with me today in paradise”. Salvation is here, on the cross. Christ does not enter alone into His kingdom, He carries with Him the first of the saved. It is faith that opens the doors of the kingdom to the good thief, because he has rightly judged his existence and has seen it in Christ the Saviour. If death is a fall into nothing, then human time assumes the colour of anguish. If instead it is the waiting for the light, then it is colored with hope, and the space of the finished is opened to the future, to the dawn of Resurrection. Christ on the cross is the object of everyone’s attention, but it is not enough. The closeness that saves is for one who humbly asks to be remembered not in the fleeting time, but in the eternal kingdom.
With Nazarene eyes
By the authentic acceptance of the Cross, work for your continual conversion without which there is no resurrection. The Cross is an integral part of the project of salvation carried out by God with you. Live to the end the complete death. Thus, you will resuscitate in fullness for peace, joy, and brotherhood.“. (Constitutions, Prologue)
“After the time of the “yes” of Bethlehem, vocation to a new life; after the time of the “yes” of Nazareth, the humility in the activity of the faith; the Brother reaches the supreme moment of the ‘yes’ of the cross, the last step of the total conversion of himself to the Lord who is the life and the resurrection“. (Constitutions, 185)
Let us pray
“Let us go with joy to the house of the Lord!” (Ps.122)
Paraphrasing this psalm, we might say: “I rejoiced with those who said to me: Let us go to Nazareth, to the house of the Lord”. Nothing more beautiful than this psalm to express our longing to return to Nazareth every day, to this house that, more than Jerusalem, is a compact house for those who inhabit it. From Nazareth will come up those who will be the true judges of Israel and the Church: Jesus, the King; Mary, the queen; Joseph the righteous man. They know what the commandments of love imply: “I was hungry, I was thirsty,…” (Br. Lino da Campo)
Lord, Your kingdom is the victory of life over death: convert us to the Gospel so that in history, also through difficulties and sufferings, can we distinguish the signs of Your resurrection. Let us show You in our frailty as our king, who has saved us giving himself upon the cross.