1st READING – 2 SAMUEL 5: 1-3
David was not perfect. David was a sinner, yet he would be the one Israel would remember as leader of their splendid past. Doesn’t that give us all hope? God comes to us as we are and can create in us a light for the world, if we let God shine through us.
As a sense of messianic hope developed in Israel, it was logical that the messiah-to-be would be referred to as the Son of David. This king is a ruler who is in solidarity with his people. Thus, king as benevolent ruler and as shepherd are primary motifs in the first Old Testament theology of kingship (W&W, Birmingham, p. 540).
We are your “bone and flesh” – what is meant here? Reflect on what it means for our messianic king to be bone and flesh WITH us…
2ND READING — COLOSSIANS 1: 12-20
This is from a Christian hymn probably used at baptisms. What do some of these phrases mean to you . . .
Scholars suggest that this letter was written most likely in the 80’s A.D. in reaction to false teachers among the Christian groups. Influenced by the Greek culture of their day, there were beliefs that regarded angels and other ‘spirits’ as rulers of the universe. They were associated with stars and new moons and pagan rituals. These people wanted Jesus to be seen as subordinate to these ‘deities,’ since by his incarnation they viewed him as being contaminated by human ‘flesh.’ This writer firmly tries to correct this view with imagery that is profound and beautiful. (Celebration, Nov. 2001)
The word ‘transferred’ has a special purpose in this reading. In the ancient world, when one empire won a victory over another, it was the custom to take the population of the defeated country and transfer it lock, stock and barrel to the conqueror’s land. Thus the people of the northern kingdom were taken away to Assyria, and the people of the southern kingdom were taken away to Babylon. So Paul says that God has transferred the Christian to his own kingdom. From darkness to light…from slavery to freedom…from condemnation to forgiveness…from the power of Satan to the power of God (Barclay, The Daily Study Bible Series, p. 111-112).
We must note that Paul says that in Christ God was reconciling all things to himself. The Greek is a neuter (panta). The point is that the reconciliation of God extends not only to all persons but to all creation, animate and inanimate. The vision of Paul was a universe in which not only the people but the very things were redeemed. The world is not evil. It is God’s world and shares in the universal reconciliation (p. 123). What a way to look at life! This resonates so closely to what Pope Francis says in Laudato Si, “…all creatures are moving forward with us and through us towards a common point of arrival, which is God, in that transcendent fullness where the risen Christ embraces and illumines all things. Human beings, endowed with intelligence and love, and drawn by the fullness of Christ, are called to lead all creatures back to their Creator,” (#83) This is the kingdom of God!
THE GOSPEL — LUKE 23: 35-45
What two reactions to Jesus are seen here? Who is the only one to call Jesus by name? What does this mean to you? How is this a story of conversion? What kind of Kingship do we see here?
Jesus chose to exercise his authority as service and forgiveness. He reigns not from a throne, but from the cross. The Jesus who is worshipped today as Lord of lords and King of kings does not Lord it over others, but, rather, he loves and leads all who will follow him to the kingdom of eternal life, peace, and glory. (Celebration, Nov. 2001)
The word ‘Paradise’ is a Persian word meaning a walled garden. When a Persian king wished to do one of his subjects a very special honor he made him a companion of the garden, and he was chosen to walk in the garden with the king. It was more than immortality that Jesus promised the penitent thief. He promised him the honored place of a companion of the garden in the courts of heaven. Surely this story tells us above all things that it is never too late to turn to Christ (Barclay, The Gospel of Luke, p. 299-300).
Christ the King was designated a holy day 1925 after World War I by Pope Pius XI. There was a strong desire to remind Christians that their allegiance was to their spiritual ruler in heaven as opposed to earthly kings and wealth (Knipper, Hungry and You Fed Me, p. 287). Don’t we always need to remember where our allegiance lies?