A CROSS FOR A THRONE – 24th November 2019, 34th Sunday in Ordinary Time – C

Luke 23:35-43

– Fr Fernando Armellini SCJ
Claretian Publications, Macau

The second thief is the only one who recognizes in Jesus the expected king: “Jesus, remember me when you enter into your kingdom.” He calls him by name. He considers him as a friend, the friend of someone who has had a devastated life. He asks only to accomplish with him the last steps of a life that has been a succession of mistakes and crimes. Jesus promises him: Today you will be with me in paradise.

The history of this criminal is that of every person: who has not acted like him? Who has not panned sometimes the life of a brother with hatred, slander, and injustice? Who has not provoked small or big disasters in society, in families, in the Christian community?

At heart, many continue to think that, on the cross, the kingship of Jesus is not well celebrated. That it was only an unfortunate moment. The real manifestation will take place at the end of the world.

 Before he died, Jesus gave a judgment of acquittal to his executioners. Will it also be valid at the end or is it a provisional statement, susceptible to revision? Are there some who believe that Jesus on Calvary was not in the ideal condition to objectively assess the responsibilities of those who were crucifying Him, still less, to manifest all his glory?

 Well, if we still cultivate such thoughts, we have not captured the face of God that Jesus has revealed to us. The trial against those who killed Jesus—let it be clear—will not be reopened. He absolved his executioners, saved them in the most glorious moment of his life when, on the cross, he showed the utmost of his love. For us, a king triumphs defeats, humiliates. We try in every which way to conform Christ to this image of kings of this world. We do not want to believe that he wins in the moment in which he loses, in the moment he gives his life. This ruler who reigns from a cross disturbs us because he requires that we offer unconditional forgiveness to all those who do us harm.

 In this perspective, the final judgment too should not be feared, but expected with joy. Stripped of miseries, meanness and pettiness with which we had burdened our minds and hearts, cured of spiritual blindness that prevented us to understand the Scriptures we will learn to forgive everyone without conditions and be able to see him as he truly is.

Translated by Fr John Ledesma SDB
Abridged by Fr Jijo Kandamkulathy CMF