The King of peace
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.”
Thank you for joining as we testify to our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, our King.
Some may remember, several Lents ago, we spent the entire season reflecting on the life and witness of Dismas – otherwise known as the “good thief” crucified alongside Jesus. His opposite number was Gesmas, the “impenitent thief.”
On this great Solemnity of Jesus Christ our King it would seem odd to read from the crucifixion narrative, this sad moment, a moment of disgrace, pain, suffering, and death. So, let’s explore the reason for that.
Throughout this year’s Liturgies we have read from the Gospel of St. Luke. This gospel is best thought of as Jesus’ travelogue. It begins with Zechari’ah and Elizabeth, her pregnancy with John, then to Mary, Joseph, the journey to Bethlehem, the infancy narrative and all else associated with Jesus’ birth – much focused on travel. Travel to Jerusalem for His Presentation. Travel to Jerusalem where Jesus stayed behind. Travel to the dessert for His fasting and temptation, to Galilee and His hometown of Nazareth where He was rejected. He traveled on to Caper’na-um where He was welcomed and urged to stay. Scripture recounts: And the people sought Him and came to Him, and would have kept Him from leaving them; but He said to them, “I must preach the good news of the kingdom of God to the other cities also; for I was sent for this purpose.”
Jesus traveled throughout Judea preaching repentance and proclaiming the immanence of the Kingdom as He made His way to Jerusalem where He could carry out His Father’s will by His suffering, death, burial, and resurrection.
So here we are at the cross, with Dismas and Gesmas, the seeming end of the journey.
Now consider this too. Dismas and Gesmas walked the way of the cross with Jesus. The journey continued and along the way they saw people weep over Jesus, His mother’s presence, so many others to whom Jesus mattered. No one came out for them. They were abjectly alone and abandoned.
Finally, on the cross, all they had was each other. No one was even jeering them. In their experience of Jesus which was less than a day, they each reached a different conclusion. Gesmas resented everything and everyone, even himself, thus his attitude toward Jesus. Dismas rather saw peace in Jesus.
For Dismas, and for us, we see in this moment the true Kingship of Jesus, as St. Paul tells us: For in Him all the fullness was pleased to dwell, and through Him to reconcile all things for Him, making peace by the blood of His cross. He is our King of reconciliation, justification, salvation, and thus peace. In this key moment on the journey the King offers Himself, His blood on the cross for us so we may journey with Him in peace forever. Praise our King forevermore!