Our Lord Jesus Christ, King Of The Universe Sunday
November 23-24, 2019
Today we celebrate the feast of Our Lord Jesus Christ: King of the Universe. Yet, the description of Jesus in today’s gospel is far from that of our usual idea of a king. Instead of sitting on a throne and dressed in fur-lined robes, Jesus is hanging from a cross and stripped of his clothes. Instead of wearing a golden crown studded with jewels, Jesus is wearing a crown of thorns. Instead of being in the company of adoring subjects, Jesus is surrounded by people who jeer at him and taunt him. Even the sign over his head proclaiming him “The King of the Jews” is meant to mock him.
How do we reconcile the description of Jesus in today’s gospel with that of a king?
Maybe the answer can be found in Jesus’ encounter with one of the men who was crucified next to him. A common criminal sentenced to death for his crime asks Jesus to remember him when Jesus comes into his kingdom. What prompts this man to reach out to Jesus? Why put himself out there in front of the jeering crowd? Why align himself with this seemingly pathetic loser?
Being in the presence of Jesus can have a powerful effect on people. The criminal who reached out to Jesus for salvation must have felt that pull to know Jesus better. He must have been impressed by the way Jesus conducted himself in the face of his unjust conviction. He must have wondered at the things that Jesus said and didn’t say while hanging there that day. Being with Jesus brought out the best in the second criminal, helped him to realize that things aren’t always as they seem, and gave him the courage to acknowledge Jesus as the king he truly is.
We can be transformed by Jesus, just like the criminal crucified next to him. But first we need to spend time with Jesus, talk to him, listen to him. Awareness of the presence of Jesus can have a powerful effect on us, just like it did for the criminal crucified next to Jesus. It can bring out the best in us, give us the courage to acknowledge Jesus as the king he truly is, and lead us to Paradise.