Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe

November 20, 2016

As we conclude the liturgical year by proclaiming Jesus as King, we are invited to not only recognize Him as a king, but to also recognize His Kingdom.   On the cross the thieves are hung, one on His left and one on His right.  One shows himself for what made him a criminal.  He is self-centered and he is only going to the Lord for his own need.  As we ponder his question, we see his appeal to Jesus, “Save yourself and us”.  He is appealing to the Lord as he himself acts.  He is interested in what brings himself joy, pleasure, wealth.  He expects Jesus to be the same, so he says to Jesus that He should save Himself and the thieves, too.  He implies that they can all be friends because they are the same.  Jesus is not that way.  Jesus does not even answer him.  This tells us a lot about the Kingdom of God.  It is not about ourselves.  The greatest is the one who will lay down his life for another.  It is not about worldly riches, pleasure, and self-edification.  The other criminal approaches Jesus with a simple humble request, “Jesus remember me”.  He is paying restitution for his sins, he realizes he has done wrong and is not asking to sit at the right hand of God. He knows he is not worthy.  What he does know is that Jesus is not a criminal, nor is He bound by the things of this earth.

The Kingdom of God begins with recognition of who Jesus is.  It continues to grow in the act of surrender.  It meets us in our lives through humility and lowliness.  All throughout the life of Jesus He proclaims a kingdom of surrender.  In the garden Jesus surrenders to the will of the Father.  In the temple as a child with his parents looking to find Him He says, I need to be about my Father’s business.  Jesus is clear about the Kingdom.

At the beginning of this month we welcomed the members of our faith community who are preparing to receive sacraments at the Easter Vigil.  In that ritual, there was a signing of the senses with the Sign of the Cross.  This is always a powerful statement to our community.  We are to use our eyes to see the Kingdom of God. We are to use our words to proclaim the Kingdom, we are to follow with our footsteps into the ways of the Kingdom.  Each of these places on the body are signed with the Sign of the Cross.  This is the sign of the Kingdom.  This is the sign of the greatest surrender and through it we have life.

As we celebrate the Kingdom, may our hearts turn towards the cross asking God to simply remember us.

Reverend John J. Ouper