THE SOLEMNITY OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST, KING OF THE UNIVERSE
2 Samuel 5:1-3
Then all the tribes of Israel came to David at Hebron, and said, “Look, we are your bone and flesh. For some time, while Saul was king over us, it was you who led out Israel and brought it in. The Lord said to you: It is you who shall be shepherd of my people Israel, you who shall be ruler over Israel.” So all the elders of Israel came to the king at Hebron; and King David made a covenant with them at Hebron before the Lord, and they anointed David king over Israel.
I was glad when they said to me, “Let us go to the house of the Lord!” Our feet are standing within your gates, O Jerusalem.
Jerusalem—built as a city that is bound firmly together. To it the tribes go up, the tribes of the Lord, as was decreed for Israel, to give thanks to the name of the Lord. For there the thrones for judgment were set up, the thrones of the house of David.
Brothers and sisters:
Let us give thanks to the Father, who has enabled you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the light. He has rescued us from the power of darkness and transferred us into the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.
He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation; for in him all things in heaven and on earth were created, things visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or powers—all things have been created through him and for him. He himself is before all things, and in him all things hold together. He is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that he might come to have first place in everything. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him God was pleased to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, by making peace through the blood of his cross.
And the people stood by, watching; but the leaders scoffed at him, saying, “He saved others; let him save himself if he is the Messiah of God, his chosen one!” The soldiers also mocked him, coming up and offering him sour wine, and saying, “If you are the King of the Jews, save yourself!” There was also an inscription over him, “This is the King of the Jews.”
One of the criminals who were hanged there kept deriding him and saying, “Are you not the Messiah? Save yourself and us!” But the other rebuked him, saying, “Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? And we indeed have been condemned justly, for we are getting what we deserve for our deeds, but this man has done nothing wrong.” Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” He replied, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in Paradise.”
The criminal on the left hand of the Lord wants to be saved from his death: “save yourself and save us!” He represents the hardened sinner who is not repentant. He does not believe in Jesus and expresses his doubt: ‘If you are the Messiah…”
As Jesus undergoes his passion and death, he IS saving him just as he is saving the whole world. But he cannot make anyone believe in him. As he takes on the punishments for our sins, he is about to canonize his first saint, Dismas, the repentant thief. “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in Paradise.”
Dismas cries out to be saved too: “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” With this, he expresses his belief in Jesus as king in the next life. But before he speaks to Jesus, he rebukes the other criminal. “Do you not fear God?”
Dismas knows that they are justly condemned under the law and they are paying the price with the capital consequence of death. He accepts his punishment and he accepts Jesus as well. The public rebuke of those who blaspheme God, test or mock Him is an important element of Dismas’ justification. Dismas knows that he has sinned. He also knows that Jesus is innocent. His justification comes from Christ. Now there is no condemnation for those who repent and believe in Christ.
The difference between being saved from death which is a passing thing, and being saved from eternal separation from God is faith in God. The criminal on Jesus’ left hand is frantically looking for a way out from his condemnation and death. But he is not repentant and does not believe in Jesus. He still wants to take charge and make demands; he wants to do things in his own power.
Have I fully embraced the fact that I am a sinner and have no power to save myself? Do I look to Jesus to heal me and forgive me and help me to follow the way of divine love? Today we look to the King of the Universe who knows us personally and loves and accepts us if we turn from sin and put our trust in him. Let us not hesitate to accept his gift of salvation that was purchased at so great a price.