It is said of one of the great Tsars (emperors) of Russia of how he would often visit the people of his kingdom, in disguise.
>> This was his method of recognizing the welfare and the well-being of his people.
On one occasion, he dressed up in the garment of a peasant (farmer).
He knocked at the door of an inn for a night shelter.
The innkeeper, who opened the door, had a long look at the peasant.
>> With hands folded, the man was pleading for a place to stay in the inn.
Seeing his shabby clothes and his haggard appearance, the innkeeper began to dismiss him saying:
“Tonight, there are many of the King’s courtiers and noblemen taking lodging in this inn.
>> You may look for a place somewhere else!”
But as he said this, one of the King’s noblemen, who heard the sound of the peasant man, rushed to the door, and motioned to let him in, saying:
“The dress may be that of a peasant, but the voice is the voice of my lord, the King!”
Very often in our lives, our God comes to us, in disguise…
… in the supplication of a needy neighbour or a distressed companion
… in the silence of a broken soul or an unhappy relationship
… in the pleading of an oppressed cry or a troubled heart
>> Do we recognize our King in all these?
Perhaps the word “King” always brings to our minds, images of…
… royal dresses and majestic clothings
… bane arrogance and vain haughtiness
… super-riches and wealthy adornments
But Christianity always comes to break such notions and shatter such worldly conceptions: Behold Our King – Jesus!
>> Seated not on a throne of gold…
… but laid on the bare wood of the Cross!
>> Crowned not with an emerald diadem…
… but circled with the painful crown of thorns!
>> Filled not with a wretched pride…
… but exposed with the sweat of humility!
Are we ready to be the sincere followers of this True and Just King?
The Church today, on this last day of the liturgical year, invites Her children to HAIL this Mighty King – Jesus…
… with the Solemnity of Christ the King!
The Gospel of the Day very aptly shatters all worldly and materialistic interpretations of a King!
St Luke takes us to the Mount of Calvary…
… where the King is enthroned on His throne – the Cross
… and flanked on either sides by His subjects – the two thieves
Very often, we have very amiable images for the Church…
… as the Bride of Christ
… as the Body of Christ
But here is an image of the Church, which may not seem that appealing; nevertheless is a valid picture of the reality – The Crucified Christ between the Two Thieves.
Just as the two thieves (who had been caught, condemned and crucified, for reasons which are unknown to us) …
>> We too are very often thieves!
… gifts and graces given by God are misused and manipulated by us
… responsibilities entrusted to us, are not performed with sincerity and dedication
… the Will of God shown in His Commandments and Teachings, are often violated and disobeyed
Thus, the two thieves, beside the Crucified Christ, are a representative of each of us.
At the same time, we need to consider the fact that both these thieves displayed contrasting attitudes…
One of them said: “Are you not the Christ! Save yourself and us! (Lk 23: 39)
>> The other said: ” Have you no fear of God? We have been condemned justly. Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” (Lk 23: 40-42)
… One reviled the Lord; the other revered Him!
… One abused the Christ; the other adored Him!
Such is also the case, in the Church.
>> We have sinners as well as saints
>> We have those who will turn away from the Gaze of the Lord; and others who will look to the Lord and draw salvation from His Face of Mercy!
Though we all are thieves – sinners, breakers of the Law, we need to examine our attitudes towards the King…
>> Are we a people who revile the Lord by saying that everything in the Church is scandalous and horrible …
… or can we revere the Lord, knowing that despite the weaknesses, the Church is the treasury of Grace and Mercy, especially offered through the Sacraments
>> Are we a people who abuse Christ by saying that He is not taking care of our needs and we are left to ourselves in our struggles and difficulties…
… or can we adore Christ, knowing that despite the problems I face, my God is very much beside me, suffering with me, and strengthening me, by His Loving Gaze.
Here is therefore a great lesson:
Both the thieves wanted relief…
>> But only one, was willing to open his heart to the Lord!
Mercy was beside both of them…
>> The one who closed his heart and reviled Him, remained in distress!
>> The one who repented and placed his trust, rejoiced in salvation!
In all our sufferings and sins and problems and difficulties…
… We can continue to remain in distress; or begin to rejoice in salvation
>> It depends on whether we close ourselves; or we open our hearts to the Fount of God’s Mercy!
It is only then that the Crucified King…
>> with pomp and splendour in His sufferings
>> enthroned on His Glorious Throne of the Cross
… would make a solemn proclamation: “Amen, I say to you, today you will be with Me, in paradise!” (Lk 23: 43)
As Venerable Fulton J Sheen would write about this Good Thief “who stole heaven”:
” It was the thief’s last prayer, perhaps even his first.
>> He knocked once…
… sought once
… asked once
… dared everything
… and found everything!
Jesus, our Great King, desires earnestly and eagerly to reign over our hearts!
>> Shall we not open our hearts and lives to the Lord?
He is Crucified for sure… but in Him, is our Salvation!
>> There is suffering with Him for sure… but in that, is our glory!
>> There will be moments of abandonment for sure… but in that, will we be blessed with joy!
The challenge is great, but the King exhorts us:
“Allow me to reign over all your thoughts, words and deeds as your King…
>> And I will make you, My Missionary of Mercy…
… and you will hear Me, say to you: “Today, you will be with me, in Paradise!”
Happy Feast of Christ, our Glorious King!
>> Love and affection to our Mamma – the Mother of Mercy and the Queen Mother of our King!
God Bless! Live Jesus!
Quotable-quote-a-day-with-St Francis de Sales (SFS) – “From the heart kiss frequently the crosses that our Lord Jesus himself puts on your shoulders
>> Don’t look to see if it is of precious wood or perfumed; they are more of a cross when they are made of the most despicable wood…
… the most rejected and dirty.”