The Crucifix and the Crown – Your Weekly Reflection from CMMB
On this last Sunday of November, we conclude the liturgical year and celebrate the Feast of Christ the King. Today’s Gospel takes us to a hill just outside Jerusalem, where Jesus has been crucified between two criminals. One of the thieves mocked him, the other recognized him as our King. The “good” thief asked for mercy in the Final Judgement and Jesus responded by granting him eternal life in heaven. Even in this moment of great suffering, Jesus showed mercy to his transgressors. “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” (Luke 23:34)
CMMB’s Board President, Sister Rosemary Moynihan, SC, further expands on the deep significance of Jesus’ actions in his final hours.
The Feast of Christ the King turns our traditional understanding of kingship and authority upside down. Each year at the end of the Liturgical Year the universal Church celebrates Jesus as King of all creation, as the Christ, the long-awaited Messiah, savior, and liberator. Christ the King is often portrayed on the cross of resurrection dressed as a traditional ruler in valuable vestments, exalted and adored. But let us, as Father Richard Rohr suggests, take a long, hard look at Jesus at this point in his life, on the cross. The Gospel of Luke places the question of Jesus as King and Messiah, proclaimer of the Reign of God, on the Hill of Golgotha being tortured, humiliated, and made to suffer hanging between two thieves—a terrifying execution.
With great love, instead of using violence or political influence to maintain his power, Jesus freely hands his life over, gives his life away for others. Facing humiliation, taunts, and ridicule, he does not strike back. However, Jesus is no passive King. He chooses to love at all costs, to show his followers a new way to truth, light, and life—a way to union with our Good and Gracious God. Facing the unknown, he models for us total trust in God’s love and fidelity.
“Jesus is no passive King. He chooses to love at all costs, to show his followers a new way to truth, light, and life.”
To the very end, Jesus puts his love into action. From the cross, he continues his message of love and acts on it. He generously responds to the request for mercy from the thief being executed with him. He extends compassion, pardon, and forgiveness, particularly to those most in need. Jesus is no distant, remote king. He is a King of action fully trusting in God; involved and compassionate with those around him. No human condition or situation was beyond his experience. He carried out his Mission with mercy and forgiveness to the end.
“He carried out his Mission with mercy and forgiveness to the end.”
Seeing the Kingship of Jesus from this perspective challenges us to live our lives to help bring about the reign of God’s love that Jesus proclaimed. The celebration of the Feast of Christ the King, an ancient tradition of the Church, challenges us to think differently about how we choose to live our lives, set our priorities and make our decisions. It encourages us to make conscious efforts to instill faith into our daily experiences, predicaments, and choices. It provides us with a guide for how to live in faith, to love in the face of negativity and hatred, to show mercy and forgiveness with generosity, and to trust in God’s faithful love. Christ the King lives and shows us the Way. Let us embrace this life-giving, hope-filled message in new, heartfelt ways this year.
Yours in grace,
CMMB/Healthier Lives Worldwide