The Paradox of Christ’s Kingship
As we celebrate the Solemnity of Christ the King, we are transported back to the pivotal moment of human history – Christ on Calvary. Today the entire Church celebrates Christ’s universal Kingship, and this story of Jesus on the Cross is His Coronation Day. How can the Cross, a sign of utter defeat, become a sign of Christ Our King’s everlasting victory? Saint John Paul II aptly stated that, “If it is assessed according to the criteria of this world, Jesus’ Kingship can appear ‘paradoxical,’ for it does not fit into earthly logic. On the contrary, His is the power of love and service that requires the gratuitous gift of self and the consistent witness to the truth.”
The Kingdom of Christ is not about strength or success or victory, at least not in the normal human sense. We see this clearly in the Scriptures proclaimed today. In our first reading from the Second Book of Samuel, we hear that David was anointed king, not so he could dominate, but so that he could “shepherd God’s people, Israel.” When we reflect on the Crucifixion Scene in the Gospel of Luke, we see that Christ the King doesn’t rule by selfishness and greed, but by sacrifice. He doesn’t rule by bringing in His Legions of Angels to destroy the evildoers who put Him there, as He could have. He didn’t rule by sending the sinful, but contrite man beside Him away, but by mercy and forgiveness, clearly evidenced in His words: “Today, you will be with me in Paradise.”
The Good Thief, or Saint Dismas realized that there is more to the human story than we see, experience or understand here. Jesus, in His example of selfless sacrifice, held the key to a Kingdom much greater than the earth would ever know. He realized that the Kingdom began on Earth through faith, hope, obedience, and love, and that it would only truly reach its fullness in Heaven. Therefore, with a humble and contrite heart, the Good Thief said to Jesus, “Jesus, remember me, when you come into your kingdom.” He surrendered himself and all the sins of his past, to the authority and reign of Christ the King.
In imitation of Saint Dismas, we are called to surrender our lives to Jesus and allow Him to be our King. We must learn from the man hanging next to Jesus. Saint Augustine tells us that “Others failed to recognize the Lord even as He performed miracles, but this man recognized Him as He hung upon the cross… with his heart he believed, and with his lips he confessed his sins.” In imitation of the Lord Jesus, let us embrace the paradox of the cross in our lives and recognize it as our path to Eternal Life. As we continue to celebrate Jesus Christ as King of the Universe, may we come to understand more clearly the depths of God’s mercy and extend that mercy to all. Today we ask the Lord to remember us as we remember Him until He comes again in glory!
Happy Thanksgiving and may God bless you!
Sr. Kathleen Fitzpatrick, IHM