CHRIST THE KING
2Samuel 5:1-; Clossians 1:12-20; Luke 23:35-43.
Today the universal church celebrates the feast of Jesus Christ the king of the universe. The gospel passage that form today’s gospel presents to us the last moments of Jesus’ life on earth. The anguish of hanging on the cross and the jeering from the people standing around the cross will accompany him to his death. A death that is not suggestive of royalty. A shameful death that is deserving of a criminal. It is indeed amazing how the Christian faith fashioned out belief in a universal kinship of Christ from such a death. He died between two other criminals among whom one acknowledged him as king and was subsequently admitted into the kingdom of Christ. The other could not perceive royalty in death by crucifixion. Thus we see that the cross of Christ is knowledge and life as revealed in the action of the repentant thief of the cross.
It is knowledge based on what is revealed by the cross of Christ. The repentant thief saw and professed the innocence of Jesus Christ. A profession which his disciples at the moment were incapable of due to fear of being lynched by the crowd. The innocent suffer when we are not able to speak out on their innocence. Overpowered by the crowd of persecutors, we give in to the victimization of the innocent, simply because of the popular opinion that the majority is always right. The cross of Christ has revealed the moment when victimization of the innocent did not work. His innocence was made clear both by the profession of the repentant thief and the power of the resurrection. Jesus Christ played along in our human quest for blood while hanging on the cross in order to reveal the evil of victimization of the innocent since the time of Abel. Lynching, scapegoating, expulsion, and death had been human mechanisms of restoring peaceful coexistence that worked. Unfortunately the relative peace associated by this mechanism creates a vicious circle of violence. Humanity groaned in the reality of this violence until the event of the cross. By his death, Jesus Christ revealed the violent contagion and replaced it with forgiveness of sins, when he cried out from the cross, ‘father forgive them for they do not know what they are doing ‘. Persecutors are always convinced of the guilt of their victims. But there is no wisdom in ganging up against the innocent because the forces behind the execution of Jesus Christ somehow forgot that he was the son of God and there is a thing as the resurrection of the dead.
The cross is life because the repentant thief was admitted into the new life in Christ. The Christian faith is founded on the power of the resurrection hence St. Paul acclaimed that but for the resurrection, the Christian community would have been in vain. Jesus Christ offered life to humanity by abolishing the violence of victimization of the innocent. He gave humanity the option of forgiveness. Forgiveness opens the way to lasting peace. Forgiveness is the establishment of the kingdom of love. God is love. The repentant thief was admitted into this kingdom of love where Christ reigns as king. God’s justice is felt in forgiveness. As Christians we are members of God’s kingdom of love.
The feast we celebrate today is Jesus Christ the universal king of love. His love is expressed in forgiveness. His justice is felt in forgiveness. Thus a king like to none in the world. This confirms his response to Pilate prior to his death that his kingdom is not of this world. God’s kingdom of love is not modeled after the earthly kingdoms of violence against the innocent as justice. It is of a divine model as such capable of breaking the vicious circle of violence in the world.
Anthony Ekpunobi, CM.