2 Samuel 5: 1-3; Psalm 122; Colossians 1: 12-20; Luke 23: 35-43

by Jude Siciliano, OP

Dear Preachers:

PRE-NOTES: Just a reminder: Next week we begins a new liturgical year. We have compiled two "First Impressions" CDs. One is for Year A. The other is for Years A, B, C. These CDs contain THREE reflections for almost all the Sundays and major feasts

If you are a preacher, lead a Lectionary-based scripture group, or are a member of a liturgical team, these CDs will be helpful in your preparation process. Individual worshipers report they also use these reflections as they prepare for Sunday liturgy.

You can order the CDs by going to our webpage: https://www.preacherexchange.com and clicking on the "First Impressions CD’s" link on the left.

Israel had longed for a Messiah, the Christ, one anointed by God to: free the nation, release captives, defend the rights of the poor and initiate a reign of peace and justice that would never end. From the earliest days of Jesus’ preaching and later in the early church, those attracted to Christ were the marginated drawn to the King who, like them, was subjected to the violence of earthly rulers.

How many times, on grand occasions, have we heard Christ’s name invoked at royal weddings, inaugurations of world leaders and in prayers by football teams hoping to win a trophy? Have you ever seen a baseball player make the Sign of the Cross coming up to bat, hoping to hit a game-winning home run? Christ on the side of the royal, the powerful and fit. Well, not on today’s feast!

Do you know the real estate dictum? The three most important things for selling your house are – "location, location, location." Can we borrow that selling point from real estate agents for today’s feast? What’s the "selling point" that draws us to our God? It’s God’s "location." And from what location does our King rule? God has taken flesh and come to our location, to dwell among us, and share fully our human life. Today, Christ’s kingly location is from the cross. That is where we can find God’s "beloved Son." That location tells us everything and is an appealing "selling point" that makes Jesus very approachable and us willing to accept his rule. As Colossians reminds us, Christ is "the image of the invisible God" and God has "transferred us to the Kingdom of his beloved Son." It is the kingdom of one, like us, who rules from the cross.

The cross reveals both the folly of our sin and the toll sin takes on our world – where the innocent suffer cruelly at the hands of the powerful. The cross also reveals God’s profound and undying love for us. Even Jesus’ crucifixion did not turn God away from us. God loves us, even when we do our worse. We have a God who is not indifferent to our suffering, indeed, has entered into our pain and the horror of death for us.

There is a long silence that precedes Jesus’ death and moments when he speaks. He does not speak when the chief priests and people cry out for the murderer Barabbas’ release and Jesus’ death. He does speak to address the wailing women whom he passes on his way to his execution. But he does not plead for mercy from his executioners when they mocked him on the cross. He breaks his silence again when, with royal authority, he assures the good thief on the cross next to him, "Truly, I tell you, today you will be with me in Paradise." Finally, Jesus cries out, "Father into your hands, I commend my spirit." Silence towards those unjustly judging and executing him; words of compassion towards those in need and in prayer to his loving Father.

Christ the King does not condemn those who murder him; while he passes a judgment of mercy on those who turn to him in sorrow and need. "Location, location, location" – what the gospel shows is that all through his life and right up to his death Christ has taken a place with the suffering, poor, sick, the defeated and the outcast who cry out to God. Christ is "the image of the invisible God," and has shown that his rule is from our location – from the midst of us. In our midst he stays faithful to us, no matter how far we have attempted to go on our own; or how far life has driven us.

With all the power and authority of God in Christ, he chooses not to use power to win subjects. He didn’t choose to use his power to issue orders and impose his ideas and will upon us. That’s the way we humans generally use our power and claim of privilege. Instead, Christ has come to be of service to us. If we are truly the church of Jesus Christ, members of his kingdom, then we too are called to be like him; not to use our power, or standing in society to our own benefit, but to relate to others the way Jesus did.

Today can be a feast of renewal for us and for all Christian churches. Christ our King is not on the side of empowering any earthly kingdom. When the good thief asked Jesus to remember him, he responded in the affirmative. Like the good thief the church is asked to remember Christ and, because he is our King, all the outsiders, downtrodden and imprisoned. Jesus did – and so must we.

Jesus did not bless any earthly power, or declare himself as ruler of any nation.

He tells the good thief he will be "remembered" and be with him in Paradise. That is the King whose rule we accept and to whom we give our primary allegiance. We are called by Christ to, like him, "remember" the least and not surrender our will or thinking to any other state or power. Christ calls us to be with him in his location by remembering all people and stand with those whose human status is threatened. With the good thief we too can be assured that Christ remembers us and welcomes us into his kingdom.

[In memory of the thief executed alongside Jesus, tradition calls him Dismas, why not write a postcard to one of the death row inmates we regularly post below?]

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