Solemnity of Our Lord
King of the Universe
A Homily - Cycle C - 2012-2013
by Rev. Luke Dundon
First Reading - 2 Samuel 5:1-3
Responsorial Psalm - Psalm 122:1-2, 3-4, 4-5
Second Reading - Colossians 1:12-20
Gospel - Luke 23:35-43
Luke wrote to explain that
Christ came to save everyone.
The rulers sneered at Jesus and said, "He saved others, let him save himself if he is the chosen one, the Christ of God." Even the soldiers jeered at him. As they approached to offer him wine they called out, "If you are King of the Jews, save yourself." Above him there was an inscription that read, "This is the King of the Jews."
Now one of the criminals hanging there reviled Jesus, saying, "Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us." The other, however rebuking him, said in reply, "Have you no fear of God, for you are subject to the same condemnation? And indeed, we have been condemned justly, for the sentence we received corresponds to our crimes, but this man has done nothing criminal." Then he said, "Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom." He replied to him, "Amen, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise."
Well, we’ve sadly come to the end of the year of faith, AND the year where we hear the readings from St. Luke . . . but we’ve saved the best for last! For as he hung there, the nails digging into his hands, sweat and blood pouring down his body, his entire being aching with the torture of the cross, this man must have been thinking, “you’re a failure!” And of course I don’t mean Jesus . . . but rather the man crucified next to him. He committed a crime deserving death . . . and now his life was coming to a premature end. “You’re a failure!”
So what are they to do? The bad thief makes demands of Jesus. Save yourself and us! Save us, not for the world to come, but for THIS world, THIS world is all we’ve lived for. We’ve done TOO MUCH to be pardoned. On the other hand, the good thief is resigned to the reality of justice. THIS man, along with his more sinister cohort on the other side, THESE two men are criminals, and society sees them as criminals. They . . . are . . . failures. They’ve done wrong, and now they’re paying for it. But with one last shred of hope, he simply asks our Lord, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” . . . Jesus has just been with twelve apostles, 72 disciples, for YEARS now, teaching them truth and showing them the beauty of God’s love, and the Church that He was going to found on earth, a Church which would span through all time and space . . . so why would Jesus remember this one CRIMINALL?!? The Son of God is busy saving the HUMAN RACE right now, my friend, and you’re waiting till NOW to ask Him to remember YOU? Well of course we know the answer . . . or do we?
There was a man from Belgium in the 20th Century, his name was Jacques. He used his father’s wealth, raced horses, sailboats and sports cars. He never held a job or a relationship for very long. By age 24, he had fathered two children, not supporting them at all. He deserted from the army and quit multiple jobs. With mounting responsibility and debt, he decided he would steal enough money to sail to the south Pacific. In a failed robbery in 1954, he shot and killed a police officer. Jacques was sentenced to death and sent to prison. His lawyer (praise God) was a devout Catholic (pro-lawyer story!). Jacques initially mocked this man and his faith. But every day, the lawyer prayed for Jacques, visiting and caring for him. In this lawyer, Jacques encountered the same king that the good thief encountered on the cross 2000 years earlier. And so, in his last days, Jacques gradually repented of his sins, became a devout Catholic himself, and literally REJOICED in God’s mercy, the remainder of his life in prison being filled with prayer and discussions about the faith with other prisoners. He was executed in October 1st, 1957. It’s shocking to many that murderer, and evil man right till his last days, would be considered for this, but Jacques is being considered for canonization, having shown such a deep conversion, faith and love for Jesus Christ.
I think it’s equally amazing to see the interaction between this condemned criminal and the King of Kings. It’s a constant temptation, to become a harsher judge than God. And we don’t necessarily judge OTHERS harshly. We judge OURSELVES harshly. *I* a failure.” “I’ve done this SO MANY times.” Pope Francis, commenting on God’s ECSTATIC desire to forgive people, says that God never, never, never, EVER tires of forgiving . . . but, WE tire of asking forgiveness. So perhaps all WE can muster is to say to Him, “Jesus . . . remember me.” (PAUSE) Even if we’re tempted to let the world judge us, we say, Jesus, remember me! Even if we’re tempted to be our own judges, we still say, Jesus, remember me! No matter WHAT happens, I just pray we never give up saying, Jesus, remember me! The good thief is now hailed as a saint in the Church today. This beautiful story should remind us, how BLESSED we are to have HIM as our king. How BLESSED we are to have HIM on the throne. How BLESSED we are to have a Heaven that’s inhabited by sinners . . . who are forgiven. He’s the king where the good thief is a failure no longer. Praise God, we’re going there as well. Dear Lord, when our time comes, may You also say to US, “TODAY, you will be with me in paradise. For you are NOT a failure. *I* am the King of Love. And YOU are MY beloved success!” LONG LIVE Jesus Christ, the King of Kings!