Engaging the Gospel – Christ the King

Solemnity of Christ the King (Year C): Gospel – Luke 23:35-43

For the Solemnity of Christ the King, the final Sunday of the liturgical year, the Church presents us with a stark Gospel: Jesus on the Cross.

“The Cross is the paradoxical sign of His kingship,” Benedict XVI has reflected:

It is in the very offering of Himself in the sacrifice of expiation that Jesus becomes King of the universe…

But in what does this ‘power’ of Jesus Christ the King consist?…It is the divine power to give eternal life, to liberate from evil, to defeat the dominion of death. It is the power of Love that can draw good from evil, that can melt a hardened heart…

This Kingdom of Grace is never imposed and always respects our freedom….Every conscience, therefore, must make a choice. Who do I want to follow? God or the Evil One? The truth or falsehood?

November 22, 2009.

This choice is reflected in today’s Gospel, in which Jesus is reviled by some, but venerated by the “Good Thief.”

The Gospel dialogue reverberates to our own time, when the kingship of Christ is still subject to mockery and derision. Many in our culture commit the sin of blasphemy, “uttering against God – inwardly or outwardly – words of hatred, reproach, or defiance” (Catechism paragraph 2148).

As members of the Body of Christ, we are called to shape our world, and transform our culture, in the light of the Gospel (898-99, 2105), and thus advance the Kingdom.

Question for reflection: How do I respond when someone mocks the Lord?

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Revere God’s Holy Name

Summary of Catechism paragraphs 2142-67, 2808-12:

  • The Second Commandment follows logically from the First: “You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain.”
  • By revealing His name, God establishes a personal relationship with us, entrusting us with an aspect of His divine mystery; if we fail to show the respect due to His name, we abuse and violate this gift of friendship.
  • God’s name evokes His majesty – YHWH, “I Am Who Am,” the fundamental ground of all being, encompassing every beauty and perfection; to protect the inviolability of the name of YHWH, the Jewish people have substituted the term Adonai (“Lord”) for it, lest it be pronounced unworthily.
  • When the Son of God became man, He took on a deeply significant name: “Jesus,” meaning “God saves,” sums up His work of salvation; the title of “Christ” conveys His “anointing” by the Holy Spirit as priest, prophet, and king.
  • Ever mindful of God’s sublime holiness, heroes of faith through the ages have been filled with zeal for His holy name; so should we, who are baptized in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit – the Most Holy Trinity.
  • Blasphemy is therefore a grave sin; it ranges from irreverent use of God’s name to expressions of mockery, contempt, or hatred toward God as well as toward the Church, the saints, and things consecrated to Him.
  • We also sin against this commandment when we do not keep promises or oaths made in God’s name; through such a failure on our part, we implicate God, so to speak, in our own lack of fidelity.
  • That is why perjury – the deliberate violation of an oath, or the swearing of a false oath without meaning to keep it – is so grave; God is Truth, yet we misuse His name to promote a lie.
  • For the same reason, we must refuse to take any oath that goes against the dignity of the human person or that harms our unity in the Church, the Body of Christ; we should not take any oath at all unless it is strictly necessary for the sake of truth or justice and administered by legitimate authorities (as in court).
  • Our name is likewise worthy of respect, for it reflects our dignity as a human person and a child of God; our unique individuality will radiate in a special way in His heavenly kingdom.

Live Your Faith

Blasphemy is sadly so common these days that we’re desensitized to it, no longer finding it shocking or offensive. We would react with righteous anger if anyone mocked or otherwise abused the names of our parents, spouse, or children. Yet do we even bat an eye when Our Lord is dishonored?

At a minimum we should guard our own speech and preserve reverence for His sacred name. If someone blasphemes in our presence, let us charitably ask them not to hurt us in this way. Let us also make reparation to Our Lord by offering our own acts of love.