The final moments of Jesus' life on earth are when it is most evident what kind of king He was.
Just one verse each day.
The Gospel of this Sunday: Luke 23:35-43
1. A word of introduction
The Gospel reading for the Sunday of Jesus Christ, King of the Universe, shows the final moments of Jesus’ life on earth. It is then that it is most evident what kind of king He was.
Above him there was an inscription that read, “This is the King of the Jews.”
The Romans crucified with two types of crosses: one T-shaped (Latin: crux commissa) and the common cross (†), whose beams intersect (Latin: crux immissa). The information that there was an inscription above Jesus’ head indicates that Jesus died on the latter type of cross.
In our churches and homes sometimes we can see crosses with these four letters: INRI. This is an abbreviation for the Latin inscription “Iesus Nazarenus Rex Iudaeorum,” meaning Jesus Nazarene, King of the Jews.
The cross is the throne of Jesus. And here you can already see the diametrical difference between Jesus and other kings.
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.”
At the last moment of his life, Jesus’ mission was fulfilled. This mission was already contained in the very name of Jesus. Even before the birth, the angel told Joseph that Mary would give birth to a Son, “to whom you will give the name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.”
There is even a play on words here in Hebrew: Jesus (Yeshua), who will save (yoshia) his people. The name Yeshua contains the letters of the verb “to save,” and the etymology of the name means “God saves.”
Jesus saved the condemned man at the last moment. The event shows to this day that Jesus cares about every sinner who repents, even the one who has committed the most horrendous sins. There is only one condition to be saved – one must turn to Jesus.
As Pope Francis often emphasizes: Mercy is the name of God, it is the name of Jesus the King.
Jesus gives something that no king can give: He gives salvation. However, whether I receive it depends on me. “The King of the Universe will not be my King until I acknowledge Him as King” (Sliwinski & Kowalski: Tomorrow Sunday).
Have I recognized Jesus as my King and Lord? How often do I turn to him? What is our relationship like?