November 20, 2022 ✶ Christ, King of the Universe (C)
Remember me when you are in your kingdom!
First reading: They anointed David king over Israel (2 Sam 5, 1). Second reading: God has transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son (Col 1:12). Third reading: Lord, remember me when you enter your kingdom! (Lk 23, 35).
The Sunday “of Christ humiliated and glorious” The Evangelist
Luke presents the kingship of Christ in a scene that is both tragic and grotesque: the parody on the cross, between two thieves, the crucifixion, the ironic writing… What happens is the typological synthesis of the relationship between God and man. There are those who reject it, yesterday as today, in the midst of the uproar of business and politics. There are those who recognize him, like the good thief: that brigand must have been struck by his infinite patience: insulted to the point of agony, amid the blasphemies of many, he still managed to forgive. He couldn’t be a mere man! “Today you will be with me in paradise”. Thief alive, thief dying! The only sure saint, let us not forget, canonized directly by Jesus! The thief is the first theoretician of the “Deus absconditus”, because he recognizes God not in glorious manifestations, but in the guise of a condemned man, not in “transfiguration”, but in “disfiguration”; in the darkness of the total eclipse, the thief shows that he knows how to see.
style=”color: #ff0000;”>Lhe idea of Jesus the king has been used to succeed in places of power; we defined ourselves as the “perfect society” in order to be able to bargain from a pedestal of superiority. Jesus is king but from the cross: “Regnavit a ligno Deus!”. The glory is in the future. It is also in the present, but as an invisible leaven. What we immediately see is not the glory but the shame. We do not tell glories that are not there! Many of our lights are will-o’-the-wisps! As long as history lasts, the Jesus we know will always be the one of the crucifixion. The resurrection is recognized by faith, the crucifixion by experience. The danger of faith is that it becomes an imaginative principle, which makes us experience an illusory and fragile harmony, like our liturgical assemblies: we enjoy for a while a peace which, however, does not correspond to reality; in daily life we suffer pain, conflict, wickedness; we gather in church on Sunday to talk about a fraternal world, but then the lights go out, we return to our jungle, in which the Gospel produces nothing.
Non life, are we with the powerful who condemn? Or among the curious people? Or are we the disciples who flee? Or among the thieves who ask for forgiveness? Faith is consolation, but this comes after the commitment! The true believer asks himself: “What can I do? Will the righteous always be condemned? Is violence the only law in history?”. We believe in Jesus the King, not to dazzle our eyes with lights that are not there, but to express the hope that the kingdom of the Risen One, a kingdom of peace and justice, will in the end be all in all. Our place, meanwhile, is at the side of the crucified Jesus, or next to the other praying crucifix.
The “Kingdom of God” In Rome the emperor Tiberius rules when, along the Jordan River, the Baptist appears. What he says arouses enthusiasm, awakens expectations, arouses hopes. The political and religious authorities are concerned because they consider his message subversive. He says: The kingdom of heaven is near! (Mt 3,2). After him, Jesus begins to travel through towns and villages, announcing everywhere: The time is fulfilled and the kingdom of God is imminent! (Mk 1.15). Sometimes he also says: The kingdom of God is already among you (Lk 17:21). The kingdom is the center of Jesus’ preaching; just think that in the New Testament the theme of the ‘kingdom of God’ is present 122 times and 90 on his lips. A few years after his death, we find his disciples proclaiming the kingdom of God in all the provinces of the empire and in Rome itself (Acts 28:31). We would like the Baptist, Jesus and the apostles there explain the meaning of this expression, but none of them do. Their message contains an undeniable subversive charge; it is considered dangerous by those in power, both political and religious. We note, however, that Jesus distances himself from those who give his mission a political-nationalistic interpretation (Mt 4,8f). Begun as a small seed, the kingdom is destined to grow and become a tree (Mt 13:31); it is endowed with an irresistible force and will bring about a radical transformation of the world and of man. The kingship of Jesus is difficult to understand, it also sent Pilate’s head into a tailspin (Jn 18:33). And too different from those of this world. How many times over the centuries has it been misunderstood!