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.”
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved.
This event in the Passion occurs only in Luke. On the surface it seems an odd choice for the Gospel on the Feast of Christ the King. There appears to be nothing regal about what is taking place here. But, then, Jesus’ reign is not of this world. Through the lens of the heavenly kingdom we see a helpless servant who, in His suffering and in the midst of derision and rejection, continues a ministry of compassion by forgiving the repentant sinner and promising him salvation. Here is precisely the kind of king we need.
May we always remember in times of darkness, desolation, and death, the presence of our crucified king. And may we always be fearless in asking Him to remember us in His kingdom.
—Fr. Ken Styles, S.J. does pastoral ministry at Walsh Jesuit High School, Cuyahoga Falls, OH
No guilt in life, no fear in death—
This is the pow’r of Christ in me;
From life’s first cry to final breath,
Jesus commands my destiny.
No pow’r of hell, no scheme of man,
Can ever pluck me from His hand;
Till He returns or calls me home—
Here in the pow’r of Christ I’ll stand.”
—from In Christ Alone