Last year, when we did the Christ the King Challenge, I honestly could have cried when I saw people raise their hands; I was so touched by people’s love. The Gospel today shows Jesus on the Cross, and we remember the words, “I looked for one that would comfort me and I found none” (Ps 69:20). Imagine what Jesus would feel in His Sacred Heart, when just one person chooses to make Him the center of his or her life.
Today is a beautiful day, and we’re going to give a gift fit for the King. That means we’re only here to please Him; no one else.
So, we’re going to start right away with our Challenge, and then we’ll see later how this is connected with the Gospel.
1) Please raise your hand if you’ve made Jesus the centre of your life. Praise God!
2) If you’d like, raise your hand if you’re close to making Jesus the centre or would like to.
3) Now, raise your hand if you’ve made Jesus the centre in the past 12 months.
Praise God! Thank you, everyone!
When we look at the Gospel, we’re reminded of what kind of a Person we’ve made the center of our lives. The Gospel says, “The leaders scoffed at Jesus saying, ‘He saved others; let him save himself if he is the Christ of God, his chosen one!’” (Lk 23:35). He won’t save Himself because He came to save others. What’s unique is that God’s chosen one is defined by His death for others.
“The soldiers also mocked Jesus, coming up and offering him sour wine, and saying, ‘If you are the King of the Jews, save yourself!’ There was also an inscription over him, ‘This is the King of the Jews’” (Lk 23:36-38). In St. Luke’s Gospel the sour wine is meant to prolong His pain by keeping Him going, but, in spite of this, He doesn’t attack them in return. Strength isn’t about destroying our enemies, but loving them. On October 9, 2022 we briefly talked about spiritual leaders: Mohammed, Buddha, Confucius—did any of them ever love like this, have the strength to love their enemies?
“One of the criminals who were hanged there kept deriding him and saying, ‘Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us!’” (Lk 23:39). They keep asking if He’s the anointed one. They don’t see His true identity. But one person does: The other criminal must have perceived Jesus’ goodness, so he says, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom” (Lk 23:42). This is the third time there’s a reference to Jesus as king, even though it’s not intentional. Today, on this solemnity of Christ the King, let’s first ponder what an amazing King we have. He endures nakedness on His throne, loves His enemies, and serves His subjects. Let’s just praise Him, and thank Him for being the center of our lives!
In addition, notice His confidence: “Jesus replied, ‘Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in Paradise’” (Lk 23:43). No other dying man ever spoke with such confidence, offering another dying man eternal life. Furthermore, Jesus backed up His words with His Resurrection. This is why He’s the most important Person in history, the world’s calendar revolves around Him, and, as we say in an Easter prayer, ‘All time belongs to Him.’
However, there’s one gift we can give Him. When the criminal said, ‘Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom,’ he gave Jesus the greatest gift: faith and trust! That’s what Jesus wants; He wants our hearts. Yes, He wants us to follow His commands, give Him time, and serve Him, but ultimately, He wants our hearts. I told you before, how, when I was young, I would buy for my brothers Christmas presents which I knew they wouldn’t like. That way, when they opened them, they’d say, ‘Oh… okay, you have it.’
But, what does Jesus really want? When we make Him the center of our lives, we give Him the greatest gift! And when we’re close to giving Him our hearts, that makes Him hopeful. Nevertheless, if we’re not there yet, He still loves us, and if we’re searching sincerely, that gives Him joy. He patiently waits for the one day when we’ll give Him our hearts.
As we move into Advent next week, we’ll have four weeks to prepare for the King’s birthday, and we’re going to reflect on how we can give Jesus a great Christmas gift with our growth in love.
Today is a celebration. Today we have clarity: We know we worship the greatest King and we’re giving Him the one gift He wants.