Word to Life — Sunday Scripture readings, Nov. 20, 2016

"Today you will be with me in Paradise." -- Luke 23:43

“Today you will be with me in Paradise.” — Luke 23:43

Nov. 20, Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe

      Cycle C. Readings:

      1) 2 Samuel 5:1-3

      Psalm 122:1-5

      2) Colossians 1:12-20

      Gospel: Luke 23:35-43

 

By Jean Denton
Catholic News Service

It’s not easy to get your head around the concept of the kingdom of God and its meaning for your own life. Then, just when you think you understand, it eludes you again.

No surprise. After all, it’s beyond us, right?

Wrong. It’s not beyond us. God desires us to be drawn into God’s kingdom, and he sent his Son, as king, to bring us there.

This week’s Scriptures describe Christ’s place in the kingdom and his unrelenting, sacrificial effort to keep God’s beloved children with him there forever.

Paul’s Letter to the Colossians reminds us that Christ’s life didn’t begin with his earthly birth. No, he “is before all things.” All things were created through him, for him, and in him all things hold together. Mind-blowing.

With such knowledge, it’s surprising that we don’t feel smaller and less self-determined. But we often forget who lives in whose kingdom.

I’ll never forget hearing that confusion laid to rest by a casual comment of the late Bishop Joseph Delaney of Fort Worth, Texas. Lamenting oft-told stories of faithful people running into burning churches to rescue the Eucharist, he said, “They’re going to save Jesus.” He raised his eyebrows, “Save Jesus — from what?”

Another time, I heard Steve Colecchi, now director of the U.S. bishops’ Office of International Justice and Peace, tell a gathering of parish social justice ministers not to get too stressed over their efforts to “save the world.”

“Remember,” he smiled, “that’s already been accomplished.”

In Luke’s Gospel this week, onlookers at Jesus’ resurrection, as well as one of the criminals hanging beside him, mockingly challenged him to prove his power by saving himself. Of course, there was no need. He was fully alive in the world that mattered: the kingdom of God.

But as savior of humanity, he would willingly give up his earthly life to ransom the lives of his Father’s faithful children who suffer in weakness and sinfulness.

Christ the King powerfully “reconciles all things” for the sake of the kingdom of God. We are indeed drawn into his kingdom when we allow him to rule our lives with his spirit of goodness, justice and love.

QUESTIONS:

What do you believe is your place and your role in Christ’s kingdom? How have you witnessed the kingdom of God influencing human society today?

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