November 20, 2016: The Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe
SECOND READING: Colossians 1:12-20
Brothers and sisters: Let us give thanks to the Father, who has made you fit to share in the inheritance of the holy ones in light.
GOSPEL: Luke 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.”
Today, feast of Christ the King, the last day of the liturgical year, we have this stark image of the kind of king Jesus was. We follow a crucified Savior.
The responsorial psalm repeats a theme of rejoicing and the second reading says clearly why we rejoice: we have been made “fit to share in the inheritance of the holy ones in light.” We like the good thief is invited to share paradise with Jesus.
We all know what it is like to be told as a child, say, “thank you.” And we also know the feeling of running over to a favorite relative who has given us something we treasure and throwing our arms around that person. It is good to reflect on when we really felt gratitude, when someone knew us so well that they were able to choose a gift that touched our heart. What a gift is given by Jesus, he promises us paradise too!
How could our national celebration of Thanksgiving be a time really dedicated to counting our blessings? What about taking time each day this week to think of the faces of people you have celebrated with and the deep gratitude you have for these people in your life.
Perhaps instead of planning a shopping trip for Black Friday you could plan a family gathering, a trip to a park, some time together to talk about how to get off the whirlwind of Christmas activities — what do you enjoy most: music, lights, gift-giving, church or school programs, volunteering, exchanging Christmas cards, quiet times of reflection? Try to list all the things that Christmas has meant and then ask each one to say what they like best and what they could live without. Maybe some compromises early on could make Christmas more of a celebration of Christ.