On the last Sunday of the liturgical year, the Church focuses on Jesus as the King of the Universe. The feast asserts that Christ, through his obedience to the Father’s will is a king who rules over an eternal and universal kingdom. A kingdom of truth and life; a kingdom of holiness and grace; a kingdom of justice, love and peace. It is a kingdom that is imperfect on earth but perfect in heaven.
Jesus is King because of his mysterious union that links his human nature with the Divine nature of the second person of the Trinity. He is king also by acquired right—because of the redemption of the human race that he accomplished. He is king too because of the glorification he received from the Father, in return for his total offering of self, in his Resurrection and Ascension. Jesus will exercise this kingship for all eternity and in a special way at the Last Judgement.
The modern mind in all its arrogance has lost sight of God and in turn has lost its ability to recognize Christ as the King of the Universe. For them, kingship has little to do with goodness and truth and more about power and earthly influence. Their myopic understanding of kingship has led them to discount the Kingship of Christ, and hence, any belief there can be a last judgement for which they will be accountable for.
The lives of those who put their efforts into gaining power either through their own industriousness or through someone else, fail to take into account fully the transitory nature of earthly life. Power and influence gained today inevitably becomes irrelevant as time marches on. Every leader or tyrant in history, or every person who has amassed anything, will eventually lose it. All that remains in the end, is a powerlessness to change anything on your own. At the end of life there are only two options open to you; either you perish on your own or you seek the help of the true King of the Universe who can forgive your sins and welcome you into your eternity.
The poignant reality of the transitory nature of life is given to us by the “good thief” hanging on a cross himself next to Jesus on Calvary. St. Luke describes the scene this way: 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.”
The “good thief” in his last moments of life is incapable of anything, as was the other who wished his transitory life could be extended. Little did the second criminal know, his life would only be ended a second time if his taunt was granted. For him, he saw the Kingship of Jesus as a way to continue his mortal life. He was so jaded in his thinking, he only sought solace, power and happiness in the world, which would all go away when his life ended. By trading true happiness for fleeting control and power, the second criminal knowing he was about to lose them for good, panicked and mocked Jesus in a last-ditch effort.
The good thief on the other hand, believed in the Christ’s kingship from a completely different perspective. He knew intuitively, the innocent man hanging next to him was truly the king of all because he could bestow something timeless, the forgiveness of sin and the capacity to grant eternal happiness with God. “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.”
The two criminals hanging on crosses next to Jesus are so different in their approach to the end of their lives. One who placed all his hopes on earthly things while the other recognized the King of the Universe is the only one who can bestow the gift of eternal happiness.
By acknowledging Christ as the King of the Universe, the believer says “Amen” to a kingdom of truth and life; a kingdom of holiness and grace; a kingdom of justice. love and peace which will never end. “Jesus remember me when you come into your Kingdom.”