Theme of the Sunday: A King Who Condemns Nobody. The first reading tells us how David, after defeating all his enemies, was anointed king over all Israel. His kingdom, great and powerful, became the symbol of the kingdom of peace and justice that God would one day establish on earth. Israel waited many centuries for the coming of the one who would begin this kingdom. The gospel gives us God’s answer to expectations. Jesus was not proclaimed king as he sat on a throne, but when he was nailed to a cross. His victory is the victory of love, not of arrogance or violence, as the second reading tells us. We end Year C and the liturgical cycle of three years with the image of Jesus forgiving everybody. Let us keep in mind that God’s thoughts are not our thoughts, his ways are not ours. The heavens are as high above earth as his thoughts are above our thoughts (Is 55:8-9).
“They anointed David king over Israel.”
A reading from the second Book of Samuel (2 Samuel 5 : 1-3)
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.
The word of the Lord.
RESPONSORIAL PSALM Psalm 122:1-2.4-5 (R. cf. 1)
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. R/.
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 judgement,
the thrones of the house of David. R/.
“He has transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son.”
A reading from the Letter of Saint Paul to the Colossians (Colossians 1: 12-20)
Brethren: We give thanks to the Father, who has qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. He has delivered us from the dominion of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. He is the image of the invisible God, the first-born of all creation; for in him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or authorities — all things were created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. He is the head of the body, the Church; he is the beginning, the first-born from the dead, that in everything he might be pre-eminent. For in him all the fulness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.
The word of the Lord.
ALLELUIA Mark 11:9b.10a
Alleluia. Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Blessed is the kingdom of our father David that is coming! Alleluia.
“Lord, remember me when you come in your kingly power.”
A reading from the holy Gospel according to Luke (Luke 23:35-43)
At that time: The rulers scoffed at Jesus, 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.”
The Gospel of the Lord.
Although Jesus’ kingdom is established from the very beginning of creation and through the Davidic kingship, his reign is not one of power but of mercy, not one of self-service but of self-giving, not one of material wealth but of eternal salvation. His throne is a cross. Through his suffering and death he brings life to all who are open to receive it. He offers paradise to all those who come to him, accept his reign, and remain faithful to the will of his father. He bids us come into his kingdom, into eternal life he has won for all. The cross is where we least ask to be. Yet this is where we find Jesus. The cross is where we ourselves least want to be. Yet this is how God’s kingdom is established and where our discipleship begins: by allowing ourselves to be crucified on the cross of self-giving. Jesus demonstrates his kingship not by saving himself but by saving others, not by power but by compassion. Just as the cross was his means to exaltation, so is the cross our only way into paradise.