The underlying spirituality here is despite our wickedness and misgivings, the love of Christ will always be overflowing in us. But like the repentant thief in the gospel, we need to recognize in faith the kingship of Jesus and His holy operations and intents.
We celebrate this Sunday the Solemnity of Christ the King. The gospel during this celebration bears a royal motif narrative. It relates the political charges against Jesus that he puts influence against the Jewish nation, advocates a revolt against Rome through its tax imposition and personally claims himself as the “Messiah and King.” These claims are like provisions to a death certificate that he has signed.
Following through the words of the leaders (v.35), the soldiers (v.36- 37), and the unrepentant criminal (v. 39) as well as the inscription on Jesus’ cross (v.38), one can comprehend the very nature of the kingship of Jesus. And this kingship is being challenged by the very words of the criminal “Are you not the Messiah? Save yourself and us!”(v.39) Such challenges call for Jesus to change his vocational identity. Such is a temptation to him to become a different sort of a King (a political one) very much distinct from the call that His Father wants him to do and live.
But it is good to dwell on how Jesus agonizes on the cross. He did not think of himself alone. He rather offered salvation to the repentant thief. We see here a God who suffered much, yet, still had that capacity to save others.
The current situation in the Visayas mirrors the many faces of the suffering Christ. Despite the difficulties they have encountered and the loss of loved ones, their faith remained strong. It helped them keep their sanity. It is nice seeing victims themselves sharing the relief goods in order for their families to survive. It is good to see the “rebuilding” spirit in them, helping their families build their “makeshift” or temporary shelter. It is so nice to see smiles on their faces despite the difficulties they have encountered during the typhoon. It feels good that despite the tribulations experienced, they remain committed to start once again; to give hope to others. We can see here the face of the suffering Christ, who “in his helplessness has that power to save!” He even asked the Father to forgive those who have crucified and tormented him, even promising the repentant thief that he will be with him in Paradise (v.43).
The continuation of this gospel text tells us that “when all the people who have gathered saw what had happened, they all returned home beating their breast.” Such is an indicator of a faith inside a person who realized that there is really something in Jesus. It is a clear and evident sign of a repentant spirit who recognized the compassionate and forgiving heart of Jesus. And for sure, their story will not stop from there.
“Amen, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise (v.43)!” The verse is a clear indication of a forgiveness granted exceeding the prayers of the repentant thief. Jesus granted him what he asked for. The underlying spirituality here is despite our wickedness and misgivings, the love of Christ will always be overflowing in us. But like the repentant thief in the gospel, we need to recognize in faith the kingship of Jesus and His holy operations and intents. May the compassionate and forgiving heart of Jesus, the King reign in our hearts as well. Onwards to the Paradise assured us by Jesus. Amen.
As published on November 24, 2013, Parish Bulletin
About Fr. Joel and his reflections…