Illustration by Phil Younk
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Based on the Gospel of Luke 23:35-43
The soldiers nailed Jesus to the cross. A sign above his head reads, “This is the King of the Jews.” The rulers, the soldiers, even one of the thieves to be crucified with Jesus, sneer at and taunt Jesus. They shout, “If you are King of the Jews, save yourself.” The irony is that Jesus is saving others in the very act of not saving himself.

It is only in Luke’s Gospel that we hear one of the two thieves defend Jesus. He is told he will be in paradise that very day. Today’s Gospel ends on Jesus’ words to him – Jesus’ continued outreach to the poor and broken. Remember at the beginning of Luke’s Gospel, the lowly shepherds were beckoned to adore the baby Jesus. Typically in Luke’s Gospel, from beginning to end, Jesus always reaches out in love to the poor, to those who are lost and to those who most need him.

The people laughed at Jesus when he spoke of his kingdom and kingship.

Jesus had said, “My kingdom is not of this world.” The people didn’t understand what he meant. Jesus’ kingdom is in the hearts of all people who love God and neighbor.

It’s the beginning of heaven here on earth. It is now – stretching the limits of time to eternity. As we follow Jesus’ great commandment to love God and neighbor by acts of love, kindness, compassion and forgiveness, God’s kingdom grows here on earth.

This Sunday is the last Sunday of the church’s liturgical year – the feast of Christ the King. The church year and the calendar year are very different. The calendar year ends on Dec. 31, New Year’s Eve, and people celebrate by counting down to midnight. The church year actually ends with a celebration that helps us to see time without end – in God’s kingdom Jesus rules forever as our eternal King.

What looked like Jesus’ final hours – humiliated, savagely beaten and eventually put to death – is really the beginning of all eternity of Jesus’ believers.

By rising from the dead and overcoming death, Jesus showed everyone he is the King of all creation. Jesus lived his life for us not for himself.

He brought new and everlasting life in heaven for all who believe and follow him.

Let us celebrate the feast of Christ the King by asking Jesus to be the King of our hearts.