First Reading: 2 Samuel 5:1-3
A reading from the Second Book of Samuel.
In those days:
All the tribes of Israel came to David at Hebron,
and said, “Behold,
we are your bone and flesh.
In times past, when Saul was king over us,
it was you that led out and brought in Israel;
and the Lord said to you,
‘You shall be shepherd of my people Israel,
and you shall be prince over Israel.’”
So all the elders of Israel came to the king at Hebron,
and King David made a covenant with them
at Hebron before the Lord,
and they anointed David king over Israel.
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 122:1-2.4-5 (R. cf. 1)
Let us now pray the Responsorial Psalm
R/. Let us go rejoicing to the house of the Lord.
I rejoiced when they said to me,
“Let us go to the house of the Lord.”
And now our feet are standing
within your gates, O Jerusalem.
It is there that the tribes go up,
the tribes of the Lord.
For Israel’s witness it is
to praise the name of the Lord.
There were set the thrones for judgment,
the thrones of the house of David.
R/. Let us go rejoicing to the house of the Lord.
Gospel: Luke 23:35-43
A reading from the Holy Gospel according to Luke.
At that time:
The rulers scoffed at him, saying,
“He saved others; let him save himself,
if he is the Christ of God, his Chosen One!”
The soldiers also mocked him,
coming up and offering him vinegar, 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.”
One of the criminals who were hanged railed at him, saying,
“Are you not the Christ?
Save yourself and us!”
But the other rebuked him, saying,
“Do you not fear God,
since you are under the same sentence of condemnation?
And we indeed justly;
for we are receiving the due reward of our deeds,
but this man has done nothing wrong.”
And he said, “Jesus,
remember me when you come in your kingly power.”
And he said to him, “Truly, I say to you,
today you will be with me in Paradise.”
Queen Elizabeth II of Great Britain died in September this year at the age of 96.
- After spending 70 years on the throne, there was an immense outpouring of grief.
- There was wall to wall coverage of the mourning period and her funeral.
- Here life was recounted in newspapers, TV, the internet – everywhere.
- I saw a video clip of her coronation in 1953. It was in black and white, but still the grandeur of the occasion – all the pomp and ceremony was so impressive.
“So all the elders of Israel came to the king at Hebron, and King David made a covenant with them at Hebron before the Lord,
and they anointed David king over Israel.”
- These words from the first reading today recalls when the twelve tribes of Israel came together at Hebron to recognize David as their King and to pledge their allegiance to him.
- There was no pomp and ceremony like Queen Elizabeth’s coronation.
- The important aspects were David making a covenant with the people, and then he was anointed king.
- A thousand years later, the Jews of Jesus’ time were under King Herod and the Roman empire.
- The people hated being part of the Roman Empire.
- They had to pay taxes to support Rome and the armies of the Empire.
- They had lost their independence and were scared of losing their identity and culture.
- So they would look to that past glory, a time when they had the great King David as their Shepherd King.
- David had his faults, but they were one with him.
- As the tribes say to David, “Behold, we are your bone and flesh.”
- Despite his all-too-human weaknesses, David united the separate twelve tribes into one powerful kingdom.
Under King Herod and the Roman occupiers, the suffering people not only looked back to those moments of past glory, they also looked ahead to a messiah, – a David-like king to deliver them from their oppressors.
- The question was: how would they recognize this long-awaited king when he did come?
- Well, he certainly was disguised in a most unexpected, even repulsive way – hanging on the cross!
- To further show his power over the Jewish people, Pilate had placed on Jesus’ cross the inscription, “This is the King of the Jews.”
- How did this king get to this horrific place?
Since the 13th Sunday of Ordinary Time, the gospel has told us that Jesus “set his face for Jerusalem”.
- In the Sunday liturgy, we have been traveling with Jesus and his disciples to the Holy City.
- As Jesus travels with his disciples he:
- performs miracles;
- teaches them about prayer and the cost of discipleship;
- sends them on mission;
- meets resistance from the religious leaders;
- predicts his own passion;
- gives warning about the coming crisis;
- encourages them to faith
- and encourages them to persevere until the Son Of Man returns.
- Still, when they do get to Jerusalem and what Jesus has predicted comes true, he is captured and crucified,
- the disciples are completely shocked and crushed by disappointment and they scatter.
As Jesus hangs on the cross,
- Those who are there at the end are: onlookers, jeering soldiers, sneering religious leaders and, at a distance, “his friends and the women who accompanied him from Galilee…”.
- There were also the two crucified criminals hanging on each side of him.
- It’s a lonely throne and powerless crown for this “King of the Jews.”
- Ironically, it is one of the criminals executed alongside Jesus who has the faith to ask Jesus to remember him when Jesus enters his kingly power.
Kings and queens, and Prime Ministers and Presidents exert power over their subjects.
- It is a “top-down” power like the power we have over things, animals and subordinate human beings.
- When I watched the funeral of Queen Elizabeth in September, it was obvious that it was a military funeral.
- Her children and the new king were mostly in military uniforms.
- Military rituals guided the lying in state.
- The Queen’s coffin was on a gun carriage and various branches of the armed forces led the procession to Windsor Castle for her burial.
- It was not the funeral of a mother and a grandmother.
- The Queen was the head of all the armed forces of Britain and the funeral was a demonstration of military power.
- When we call Jesus our king, some people believe that is the kind of power he should exert any time he chooses.
But today, on the cross, where is that power?
- Why doesn’t Jesus exert it to get off the cross, smash his enemies and declare the arrival of the kingdom?
- Instead, if we want to see our king, we must turn our gaze to the awful spectacle of the cross and see Jesus nailed to the wood of the cross.
Jesus, the king, is showing us another kind of power from the cross.
- In the letter to the Philippians, we are reminded that:
- Jesus emptied himself, put aside divine privileges and power to humble himself and become human – even to accepting the ignominious death on a cross.
- Jesus’ power is not exerted by force, but by inviting us to become one with him.
- Jesus is offering himself to us in a relationship that is strong, even when it appears weak.
- In that relationship we share in his power – a power to heal and forgive; a power to be his servants in his ministry of reconciliation.
- In our relationship with Jesus we become strong, not assuming power and rule over people, but by sharing his life in our relationship with others.
We are free to accept or reject his rule; he will not force us.
- He doesn’t want us to be his slaves.
- Jesus want us to be his friends.
- As followers of Jesus, we live as brothers and sisters in his kingdom, which is already present in the world.
So, we live in hope and return each week to Mass to receive the nourishment we need –
- the Word of God and the food of Jesus’ body and blood –
- so that we can live in the kingdom of God,
- not only as loyal servants, but as brothers and sisters of King Jesus.
From today’s Gospel reading:
The rulers sneered at Jesus and said,
“He saved others, let him save himself
if he is the chosen one, the Christ of God….”
Above Jesus there was an inscription that read,
“This is the King of the Jews.”
Jesus, the king, is showing us a power from the cross in contrast to what the world reckons as power and rule. His power is not exerted by force over us, but by inviting us to become one with him. He is offering himself to us in a relationship that is strong, even when it appears weak.
So, we ask ourselves:
- What touched me in the readings today?
- Can you name two or three powers that lay claim to the hearts of people in the world?
- What powers compete with Jesus’ rule within our church? Within ourselves?