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In those days, all the tribes of Isreal came to David in Hebron and said: "Here we are, your bone and your flesh. In days past when Saul was our king, it was you who led the Israelites out and brought them back. And the Lord said to you, "You shall shepherd my people Israel and shall be commander of Israel.""
When all the elders of Israel came to David in Hebron, King David made an agreement with them there before the Lord, and they anointed him king of Israel.(P) The word of the Lord.
I rejoiced because they said to me, "We will go up to the house of the Lord." And now we have set foot within your gates, O Jerusalem. (R)
Jerusalem, built as a city with compact unity. To it the tribes go up, the tribes of the Lord. (R)
According to the decree for Israel, to give thanks to the name of the Lord. In it are set up judgment seats, seats for the house of David. (R)
Brothers and sisters: Let us give thanks to the Father, who has made you fit to share in the inheritance of the holy ones in light. He delivered us from the power of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.
He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For in him were created all things in heaven and on earth, the visible and the invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers; all things were created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. He is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things he himself might be pre-eminent. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him God was pleased to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, by making peace through the blood of his cross.(P) The word of the Lord.
The rulers sneered at Jesus and said, "He saved others, let him save himself if he is the chosen one, the Christ of God." Even the soldiers jeered at him. As they approached to offer him wine they called out, "If you are King of the Jews, save yourself." Above him there was an inscription that read, "This is the King of the Jews."
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".(P) The Gospel of the Lord.
The Bible says that the Salvation history or God's plan to save the human race began when the first humans sinned and their sin corrupted the whole of creation, Genesis (3). Since then, God gradually and over thousands of years had been revealing Himself in successive stages to humanity by making covenants with Noah - Genesis (9:1-17), Abraham - Genesis (15:1-15), Isaac - Genesis (26:3), Jacob - Genesis (28:13-15), Moses - Exodus (19-34), David (2), Samuel (7) and all their descendants to restore their broken relationship with Him.
Although they had broken God's covenants and angered Him, God declared through the prophet Jeremiah that He would fulfil all His promises, especially the promise of sending a Redeemer who would be a descendant of Adam and Eve, Genesis (3:15), and that He would be a permanent king who would sit on the throne of David forever, Jeremiah (31:31-34). About five hundred and fifty years after Jeremiah, an angel of the Lord appeared to some shepherds who were watching over their flocks at night in the fields outside the town of Bethlehem in Judea, and announced the birth of Jesus saying, "a Savior has been born and that "He is Christ the Lord", Luke (2:8-11).
During His first visit to the synagogue in His home town Nazareth, at the age of twelve, Jesus read the well-known Messianic prophecy from the prophet Isaiah (61:1-2), "The spirit of the Lord is upon me, for he has anointed me to bring good news to the afflicted. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives, give sight to the blind, let the oppressed go free and proclaim a year of favor from the Lord" and told them that He was the long-awaited Messiah, Luke (4:17-21). At the age of 30, after being baptized by John in the Jordan River, Jesus began to preach around the Sea of Galilee. And He continued to preach in synagogues and market places, forgave sinners and healed every disease and sickness among the people, and consequently, attracted many followers.
However, after three years of public life and ministry, He was betrayed and abandoned by His own disciples; was tried and condemned by the Jewish elders and tortured to death on a cross by Roman soldiers. He was innocent, and yet He was crucified on the cross, and died a humiliating and shameful death, which was then, the highest form of punishment reserved for the worst of criminals.
On the day Jesus was crucified, many people stood watching but they no longer looked up to Him the way they used to. Some people, such as Jesus' mother, and his mother's sister, Mary, and Mary Magdalene and others were greatly saddened, John (19:25). Some people assumed that Jesus was just as guilty as the criminals hanging on His right and on His left. From today's text, we learn that there were religious leaders and rulers who sneered at Jesus saying, "He saved others; let him save himself if he is the chosen one, the Christ of God." There were soldiers who mocked Jesus and said to Him, "If you are the King of the Jews, save yourself!" They called Jesus the "King of the Jews", because Pilate had put the inscription above His head to let everybody know that Jesus was the King of the Jews whether the Jews believed and accepted it or not.
One criminal, hanging on the cross next to Jesus reviled Him, saying, "Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us!" But the other criminal rebuked the first and said, "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 had done nothing wrong." The second criminal realized that while their punishment was justified for their crimes, the punishment for Jesus was unjust. Moreover, recognizing the mercy and love of Jesus for him and many other sinners, he humbled himself and said to Jesus to remember him when He would come into His kingdom. In other words, the criminal looked forward to Jesus' coming again in his kingly glory and with dignity and power. Since the criminal sought it, Jesus forgave him and said, "Today you will be with me in paradise."
What is the message for us?
God's Word is the most essential for our spiritual growth and for our intimate and personal relationship with Him. As Christians, we could be ignorant of many things but we must not be ignorant of the knowledge of God. If we want to grow as Christians, as Saint Peter says, we must "grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ", 2 Peter (3:18). Saint John in his gospel writes that knowing God and knowing Jesus Christ whom He has sent is eternal life, John (17:3).
Our Lord Jesus continues His mission of salvation through His Body, the Church, and He has commissioned His servants to guide all people to a fuller understanding of His Word. During the past liturgical or church year, we have been reading and reflecting on Jesus' life, His teachings and miracles according to the gospel of Luke. Today as we end the liturgical year with the celebration of the Feast of Christ the King, it is only fitting that we assess our knowledge and understanding of Jesus. If we really know Christ, it will be manifested in our character and conduct.
So, after having read and meditated on Jesus' whole life and works or after knowing Jesus or after having been a Christian for many years, do we, just like the priests, elders, rulers, criminals, passersby and unbelievers, revile, insult, curse and challenge Jesus and reject Jesus as our King? Or do we, just like the repentant criminal, truly repent of our sins and believe in the Lord Jesus, and joyfully accept and boldly declare that He is the King of our life, our thoughts and actions, and He is the King of our whole being? Today, you and I, as believers can acknowledge that very fact. The very moment we accept Jesus Christ as our own Lord and Savior and live according to His Word, we are saved and we will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit, Acts (2:38).(P) Amen.
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