2 Samuel 5:1-3
David is anointed king.
Enter the house of the Lord rejoicing.
Hymn to Jesus as the first-born of all creation.
Jesus is crucified under the title King of the Jews.
Gospel LK 23:35-43
The rulers sneered at Jesus and said,
“He saved others, let him save himself
if he is the chosen one, the Christ of God.”
Even the soldiers jeered at him.
As they approached to offer him wine they called out,
“If you are King of the Jews, save yourself.”
Above him there was an inscription that read,
“This is the King of the Jews.”
Now one of the criminals hanging there reviled Jesus, saying,
“Are you not the Christ?
Save yourself and us.”
The other, however, rebuking him, said in reply,
“Have you no fear of God,
for you are subject to the same condemnation?
And indeed, we have been condemned justly,
for the sentence we received corresponds to our crimes,
but this man has done nothing criminal.”
Then he said,
“Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.”
He replied to him,
“Amen, I say to you,
today you will be with me in Paradise.”
Background on the Gospel Reading
Today as a Church, we conclude our liturgical year and celebrate the Feast of Christ the King. The Gospel we proclaim shows the great mystery of our faith: In the moment of his crucifixion, Jesus is shown to be King and Savior of all.
Luke’s Gospel has been loaded with surprises: the poor are rich, sinners find salvation, the Kingdom of God is found in our midst. Here we see the greatest surprise of all. We are confronted with the crucified Jesus, whom faith tells us is King and Savior of all. The irony is that the inscription placed on the cross, perhaps in mockery, contains the profoundest of truth. As the leaders jeer, the thief crucified by his side recognizes Jesus as Messiah and King, and finds salvation.
Jesus is King, but not the kind of king we might have imagined or expected. His kingship was hidden from many of his contemporaries, but those who had the eyes of faith were able to see. As modern disciples of Jesus, we, too, struggle at times to recognize Jesus as King. Today’s Gospel invites us to make our own judgment. With eyes of faith, we, too, recognize that Jesus, the crucified One, is indeed King and Savior of all.
Understanding today’s Feast of Christ the King may be particularly challenging. While we may not have a direct experience of kings or royalty, we have some sense of what these mean. We know that royalty have sovereignty over their kingdom. We know that those who are subjects to royalty offer them allegiance and honor. Christ is King in a way that is different from traditional understandings of royalty. Christ’s kingship extends to all places, all people, and all times. Christ manifests his kingship through his death on the Cross, in which he offers salvation to all.
Recall with your children stories that you may have read about royalty. Talk with your children about what they have learned from these stories about what it means to be a king. Talk about what they have learned from these stories about what it means to be a subject.
Tell your children that this Sunday is the last Sunday in the Church Year, and on this Sunday, we celebrate a special feast called the Feast of Christ the King. Read today’s Gospel, Luke 23:35-43. Reflect together on how the various people in this Gospel respond to Jesus on the Cross. Who in this Gospel recognizes Jesus as King? (the thief) What does Jesus promise the thief as a result? (The thief will be with Jesus in paradise.)
Talk about how your family will recognize and honor Christ the King. Pray together the Lord’s Prayer and ask God to help your family to act in ways that show you recognize and honor Christ as King.
Sources: Loyola Press; Sunday Readings