The Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe


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.”
 
It is the custom after presidential elections for the lame duck president to issue pardons for certain convicted felons. Some, the president believes, have been convicted unfairly; others were given too harsh a sentence and they have suffered enough. Or, similar crimes are not punished as severely today as when this particular fellow was sentenced. The custom is a time-honored opportunity for the retiring president, now that he is beyond the reach of politics, to show mercy. Though some of the decisions may be controversial, most people view this as an opportunity to right the wrongs a cumbersome system has created.
In today’s gospel we hear the story of Jesus, whom we know as Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe, showing mercy to a condemned man. Oddly, neither the convict nor his compassionate judge will escape the punishment their tormentors have placed on them; both will die of crucifixion. But Jesus promises to accompany his new friend into Paradise.
This end-of-the-year solemnity celebrates the Last Judgment, the authority of Jesus Christ to judge each of us and to finally set things right, to accomplish something we could never manage. Though we have occasionally ended wars and created peaceful cities and nations, our best efforts and greatest successes have been pathetic shadows of the justice we know should prevail. The wicked are rarely punished, the wounds of crime are rarely healed, the innocent are rarely vindicated and the repentant are rarely forgiven. Peace is only a balance of terror; prosperity is time to prepare for war.
We could not manage justice. Our political systems could not engineer it; more often they only prolonged and intensified injustice.
Today we celebrate the principles of mercy and justice by which Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe will set things straight. We long for that Day to come. Yesterday would not be too soon.
Christians can be eager for the Judgment Day because we readily own our sins and often go before the throne of judgment to find mercy. We make no claim of innocence except by the baptism of blood in which we were washed. We have waited seemingly forever for the appearance of the Judge. We have been appalled at human crime and horrified to realize how deeply each of us is enmeshed in the crime.
No one can claim innocence. No one can say, “I am opposed to war” because each of us has enjoyed its benefits. All too often we were ready to declare war at the slightest provocation, at the least threat to our security. Some have preferred to incarcerate hundreds of people without trial or inquest to the possibility that one of those persons might be a “terrorist.” Others let that happen without protest.
Before Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe we renounce our title of innocence and, like the thief on Calvary, beg the Lord to “remember me when you come into your kingdom.”

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I love to write. This blog helps me to meditate on the Word of God, and I hope to make some contribution to our contemplations of God's Mighty Works.

Ordinarily, I write these reflections two or three weeks in advance of their publication. I do not intend to comment on current events.

I understand many people prefer gender-neutral references to "God." I don't disagree with them but find that language impersonal, unappealing and tasteless. When I refer to "God" I think of the One whom Jesus called "Abba" and "Father", and I would not attempt to improve on Jesus' language.

You're welcome to add a thought or raise a question.