Today, we celebrate the Solemnity of Christ Our Universal King. In the first reading, Christ’s kingship was anticipated in the crowning of David as the King of the whole Israel. The gospel laid bare for us the type of King Our Lord is. He is the one who hung on the cross for the sake of his brothers and sisters.
The kingship of Christ today challenges our assumption about power and leadership. As king, Christ “chose not to save himself but instead offered himself for our sake to reconcile us to God”. His kingship is not about earthly power, glory and wealth nor of national and political pride. It is spiritual. Christ’s kingship is a scandal to a world trapped in the struggle for power and prestige today.
In fact, the two thieves that hung at the two sides of Christ represent this struggle. Each of them personified one of the two interpretations of kingship. One is the political and the other is the spiritual. While the criminal who mocked Christ, asking him, “Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us,” represents the wrong understanding of kinship of Christ as a political leader, the other thief, who rebuked his brother and asked Jesus to remember him when he comes to his kingdom represents the true meaning of Christ’s kingship—a spiritual savior and messiah.
Dearest ones, how did this “good thief” know who Christ was? He began by acknowledging his sins reminding his brother that they were suffering for their evil actions while this man is innocent. He also contrasted their anger and annoyance with Christ’s calmness, love and forgiving spirit towards his tormentors. Jesus was full of mercy even in his agony and pains.
Just like this “converted thief”, Christ would want us to be a sign of his future kingdom. He doesn’t want us to carry placards and banners but to live and act like him. He wants us to be people of peace, truth, joy, mercy, and so forth. To describe Christ’s kingdom, one would say that its banner is the cross, its emblem is suffering, its flag is service, and its passport is love. Just as citizens of a country are known through their passport, we are to be known through our love and mercy since we are citizens of Christ’s heavenly kingdom. It is to this kingdom that we all are called to be.