1989 Nov 26 – Christ the King Sun (Bulletin Letters)
Christ the King Sun Cycle C
Lk 23, 35 – 43
WHAT DO JESUS’ THREE ACCUSERS ALL HAVE IN COMMON? This is the last week of the Church calendar. We are celebrating the feast of Christ the King. In today’ s Gospel from Luke we find our ‘Christ the King’ at the lowest point of His earthly life. He is nailed on a cross about to die. Not only is he suffering great physical pain and torture, he is also being ridiculed and insulted. Both the leaders of the Jewish people and the Roman soldiers challenged Jesus to save himself. They reason, if he is truly the Messiah and King he should be able to come down off his cross and save himself. Even one of the thieves who was hung by his side taunts him, “Save yourself and us too!”
The second thief speaks up. He tells the other to back off, “Have you no fear of God?” He knows his end is near. He admits his own crimes. He also can see that Jesus has done” nothing wrong”. This second thief, through his own confession saw Jesus for who he truly was, an innocent man. . He asks to be included in Jesus’ Kingdom when its time comes. Jesus grants him his wish; in paradise this thief was taken that very day.
The one thing all three of Jesus’ accusers have in common is their reliance on violence. The leaders and the soldiers work within the law and the thief works outside the law yet all three rely on violence to do their thing. Jesus would not play by their rules; he will not use violence or the threat of violence to get his way. Jesus’ power is exercised from the inside out, through the hearts & souls of people who freely choose his way. To his accusers this King was a farce. At the foot of the cross they had no respect for Him, only contempt. Little did they know what it all meant.
JESUS GUILTY AS CHARGED, INNOCENT OF WRONG: Jesus was truly innocent of any wrong but clearly gul1ty as charged. Today we celebrate the feast of Christ the King. Kingship by definition has a political dimension. The art of politics is the exercise of power. Throughout his ministry Jesus worked in the political arena. His public acts were often a direct affront to existing political authority. If his teachings were actually put into practice it would have meant the fall of the whole Roman Empire. The Romans and the Jewish leaders knew this and joined together to do away with him.
What made Jesus different from other threats to the Empire was his complete nonviolent response, in the face of repression. The State and Church of his day crucified him thinking they had done away with him. They did not count on the Resurrection and what it would do to the hearts and souls of those who would come to follow in Jesus’ footsteps.
For all of our Cosmic and Supernatural claims about Jesus, the political dimension is still very much a part of his message. Just as it was in Jesus’ time, this message puts its followers on a direct collision course with the unjust authorities and structures of our day. As followers of Christ the King, we are challenged to measure the existing social, economic, political and religious structures by the standards set by the Gospels. Where these structures fail to measure up we are called to speak the truth, even to the point of personal risk, always through non-violent means and with love.