Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe
These are the words with which the pope introduced the Marian prayer:
Dear brothers and sisters,
Good morning. On this final Sunday of the liturgical year, we celebrate the Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe. And the Gospel today has us contemplate Jesus as he presents himself to Pilate as king of a kingship, “not of this world” (Jn 18:36). This does not mean that Christ is the king of another world, but rather that he is king in another way, and yet he is king in this world.
It is a contrast between two logics. Worldly logic rests on ambition and competition, it fights with the weapons of fear, blackmail, and the manipulation of consciences. The logic of the Gospel, that of Jesus, instead is expressed in humility and selflessness. It quietly but effectively asserts itself through the power of truth. The kingdoms of this world are sometimes built on arrogance, rivalry, and oppression; the kingdom of Christ is a “kingdom of justice, love and peace” (Preface).
When did Jesus reveal himself? In the event of the Cross. Whoever looks at the Cross cannot but see the surprising selflessness of love. Some of you might say: “But Father, this was a failure.” It is in the failure of sin—sin is a failure—in the failure of human ambitions, where the Cross triumphs, the selflessness of love. In the failure of the Cross we see love, this love which is selfless, which Jesus gives us. For the Christian, to speak of power and strength means pointing to the power of the Cross and the strength of Jesus’ love: a love that remains firm and whole, even in the face of rejection, and that appears as the fulfillment of a life spent in the total self-offering for mankind.
On Calvary, the passersby and leaders derided Jesus nailed to the cross and they throw him this challenge: “Save yourself and come down from the cross!” (Mk 15:30). But paradoxically, the truth of Jesus is precisely what his opponents scoffingly fling at him: “He cannot save himself” (V. 31). If Jesus had come down from the cross, he would have succumbed to the temptation of the prince of this world. Instead, he cannot save himself, precisely in order to save others, precisely because he gave his life for us, for each one of us. To say: “Jesus gave his life for the world” is true, but it is more beautiful to say: “Jesus gave his love for me.” And today in the square, let each of us say in his heart: “He gave his life for me,” to be able to save each of us from our sins.
And who understood this? One of the two robbers crucified with him understood this well, called the “good thief,” he besought him: “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingly power” (Lk 23:42). But he was a criminal, he was corrupt, and he was there condemned to death because of all the brutality he had carried out in his life. But in the attitude of Jesus, in the meekness of Jesus, he saw love. And this is the strength of the kingdom of Christ: it is love. For this reason, the kingship of Jesus not oppress us, but frees us from our weaknesses and miseries, encouraging us to follow the paths of goodness, reconciliation and forgiveness.
Let us look at the Cross, let us look at the good thief and let us all say together what the good thief said: “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingly power.” All together: “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingly power.” To ask Jesus, when we see we are weak, sinners, defeated, to look there and say: “You are there. Don’t forget me.”
Before the many lacerations in the world and the far too many wounds in the flesh of men, let us ask the Virgin Mary to support us in our commitment to imitate Jesus, our King, by making his kingdom present through acts of tenderness, understanding and mercy.
After the Angelus
Dear brothers and sisters,
Yesterday in Barcelona, Federico da Berga and 25 martyr companions were proclaimed blessed. They were killed in Spain during the ferocious persecution of the Church last century. They were priests, young professed religious awaiting ordination, and lay brothers belonging to the Order of Capuchin Friars Minor. Let us entrust to their intercession our many brothers and sisters who, unfortunately still today, in various parts of the world, are being persecuted because of their faith in Christ.
This Wednesday I begin the journey to Africa, to visit Kenya, Uganda and the Central African Republic. I ask you to pray for this journey, so that it may be for all these dear brothers and sisters, and for me, a sign of closeness and love. Together let us ask Our Lady to bless these dear lands, so there may be peace and prosperity there.
Translation by Diane Montagna of Aleteia’s English edition.
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