(You could begin by reading the scripture passage. Better yet, ask someone to read it to you. The Word of God is meant to be heard.)
This Sunday is the last Sunday of the Church year. The year ends with a feast—Christ the King. The Gospel reading for this Sunday takes us to the moment of the crucifixion. It seems a little strange that the celebration of Christ the King should include scripture about Jesus dying on the cross. Would it not make more sense to celebrate the Resurrection? Why proclaim his death?
And the people stood by, watching; but the leaders scoffed at him, saying, “He saved others; let him save himself if he is the Messiah of God, his chosen one!” The soldiers also mocked him, coming up and offering him sour wine, 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 there kept deriding him and saying, “Are you not the Messiah? Save yourself and us!”
The leaders and one of the criminals call Jesus the "Messiah." "Messiah" is the Hebrew word for "Christ." Both words mean “Anointed One.”
A person is anointed with holy oil. The oil is slathered on the person. It is a way of showing that the person is chosen by God for a particular mission.
Kings are anointed.
Priests are anointed.
Prophets are anointed.
We are anointed.
We are anointed with the holy Oil of Chrism, the Christ oil, when we are baptized, and again at Confirmation.
What can this mean?
Could we also be chosen by God for a particular mission?
Here are the words which are said at our Baptism:
As Christ was anointed Priest, Prophet, and King, so may you live always as a member of his body, sharing everlasting life.
If we are going to be members of the Kingdom sharing everlasting life, we need to know what kind of King Jesus is.
Scoffing and mocking, the leaders and criminal mean "Messiah" as an insult. Clearly, they believe that Jesus is hardly a priest or a prophet; they are jeering when they call him king. Dying helplessly on a cross, Jesus does not seem chosen by God. If this is his mission as the Christ, it is not a glorious one. If he is King, how is he leading his people?
However, the other criminal says,
“this man has done nothing wrong.”
Jesus has done nothing wrong, yet he allows himself to be put to death. He gives all of himself—in the bread at the Last Supper and on the cross. He pours out his whole life—into the cup full of wine and into death. This is his mission as the Christ. He is Priest, offering a sacrifice. He empties himself.
The criminal continues,
“Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” Jesus replied, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in Paradise.”
In the midst of that self-emptying on the cross, Jesus shows mercy to a criminal. This is his mission as the Christ. He is Prophet, sharing the vision of God to the desperate. He offers the man hope.
This is truly Jesus’ mission as the Anointed One. As King, he leads us.
We are anointed like him. How do we share in this mission?
Can we show mercy to sinners?
Can we offer hope to those in desperate situations?
Can we empty ourselves out for others?
In our own particular way, in our own special life, we can offer ourselves. We can choose to accept the particular special mission God has given to us in Baptism.
In this way, we announce to the world, that our King is coming.
King of the world!
King of all!
Long live the King!