Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe

November 24, 2019

As we celebrate this solemnity and close out the liturgical year, we are invited to embrace the expansiveness of the title King of the Universe.  Its expanse knows no limits.  This year our readings bring us to the defining moment of this God King.  Unlike the super heroes that fill the silver screen and other genres, where worlds blow up and destruction of the universe is threatened, we are invited to a small hill outside of the walls of Jerusalem, where three criminals according to Roman law are being put to death.  It is a simple scene.  It invites us past the brutality of crucifixion, the nails, the blood and those dying by asphyxiation to a dialogue between criminals.  One just wants immediate vindication and to be restored to life in this world.  He blasphemes the Son of God.  The other with a heart for the future asks for forgiveness.  Jesus rewards him with the promise of paradise.

This is the Kingdom of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe.  It begins with honesty, it begins with looking past the present moment into the future.  The good thief recognized the punishment for his wrongdoing but allows his heart to lead him to the promise of paradise.  As we come to the close of the year, as we look back over the grace filled moments, as well as the broken moments where we were less than grace filled, we are to look past the things of this world and treasure the things that last forever—faith, hope and love.

On this day of solemn holiness when we proclaim Jesus as Lord and Savior, King of the Universe, it allows us to reconnect with the definition of ourselves.  Who are we?  Are we like the thief who only looks to God for selfish reasons?  Are we the ones who are not embracing the sin in our lives and have no fear of God? Or can we define ourselves as sinners in need of mercy?  Can we define ourselves as one who seeks the forgiveness from the only One who can give it?

It has been a blessed liturgical year in my life.  With my own eyes I have been able to see faith come alive in the lives of others.  It is a kingdom where I have come to know my own faults, they are always before me.  I have embraced the openness of the Holy Spirit where I have had to retrace my own steps knowing that others had better ideas and a better way.  Most of all in this past liturgical year, I have been given the opportunity to Break the Bread that is the Body of Christ with you and share what it means to me.  There has no greater experience in my life than that.

Far from the super heroes of the day that grasp the imagination with super powers, on one day in a small place outside the walls of a holy city, the living God showed Real Power, Real Love and Real Purpose.

May we follow Him.

Reverend  John J. Ouper