Our
Fellowship

Our
Branch

AHC C Christ The King - Hebrew Catholics

Association of

Hebrew Catholics

New Zealand Branch

Christ The King

Last Ordinary Sunday Year C

A Hebrew Catholic Perspective
www.hebrewcatholic.org.nz

Click here for a printable copy of this paper

St. Luke 23: 35 — 43

 

Introduction

From the time of His temptation in the desert, our Messiah, the Lord Jesus consistently avoided all show of power in His own name. In this reading He demonstrates that He can save one who trusts in Him. It is this text that is therefore chosen to bring the “Year of Luke” to a close, with the onset of Advent and the start of another Christian year.

All through His ministry, our Lord was under attack by those who had a different agenda regarding what the Messiah should be like, and how he should use force and even manipulation to gain the control of minds. The same influences are still at work under various guises, and still wreaking havoc within and beyond the Church. But those who keep our Lord’s teaching echoing constantly within them # will perceive the false images of the Messiah for what they are, and will listen even more closely to Jesus’ own words and lessons. In this text we let the Kingship of Christ emerge in all its stark simplicity: today you will be with me in paradise.

#     Scripture Reflection and meditation on these notes is one way of achieving this.

Click here for a printable copy of the text

 

Some Reflections On the Text

The scene

Jesus has been executed by crucifixion near a small rubbish dump beyond the walls of Jerusalem, along with two convicted criminals, one on each side of Him. Both criminals heard Him say, “Father, forgive them for they do not know what they are doing.”

Verse 35

The people stood by and watched; the rulers, meanwhile,
sneered at him and said, “He saved others, let him save
himself if he is the chosen one, the Messiah of God.”

“The people stood watching,” in other words, staring at the spectacle. Some scholars say everyone sneered at Jesus. But it is more likely that a very closed group of the ruling authorities did most of the sneering. After all it was they who insisted that the Messiah must act with power and violence; must vindicate himself by force; must destroy all opposition and triumph over enemies; and that anyone claiming to be the Messiah but did not act in such a manner must be an imposter.

Verses 36 and 37

Even the soldiers jeered at him. As they approached to offer
him wine

they called out, “If you are King of the Jews, save yourself.”

Then it was the soldiers’ turn to mock and sneer. They offered their coarse wine as though to honour one who pretended to be a king, adding their final insult: “If you are what you claim to be, prove it by saving yourself!”

Verse 38

Above him there was an inscription that read, “This is
the King of the Jews.”

Above the head of Jesus was placed a placard, Usually this contained the criminal charge of which the prisoner had been found guilty, and it was tied around his neck. In this case, Jesus had not been found guilty of a single charge. Thus Pilate, instead, had the words (literally), “The King of the Jews; This one!” attached to the most conspicuous place above his head. In this way Pilate makes a very emphatic statement. He is not mocking Jesus, as he could find no charge against him. He is taking his revenge on the Jewish authorities who outwitted him and forced him to give in to their pressure for the execution of Jesus. Pilate now takes the opportunity to drive home that they are a subject people without a King.

Ironically, Pilate is stating a spiritual truth.

Verse 39

Now one of the criminals hanging there reviled Jesus,
saying, “Are you not the Messiah? Save yourself and us.”

One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him: “Aren’t you the Messiah? Save yourself and us!”

In fact, his hurling insults demonstrated he was joining those who were mocking Jesus. The question, “Aren’t you the Messiah?”, is deliberately demeaning and sarcastic. The early Church considered it to be blasphemy to refuse to take Jesus’ powers seriously. St. Luke is reflecting in his Gospel account how despicably this criminal’s taunts were viewed.

Verses 40 and 41

The other, however, rebuking him, said in reply, “Have you
no fear of God, for you are subject to the same condemnation?

And indeed, we have been condemned justly, for the
sentence we received corresponds to our crimes, but this
man has done nothing criminal.”

Word of Pilate’s original judgement must have got around: no criminal charge against Jesus could be proved; and the highest Court in the land found Him completely innocent.

The only person recorded who acknowledged this truth is, ironically, a criminal at our Lord’s side. This man is stating only what he has heard and believed. The most caustic insults within his hearing have, ironically, brought him to the truth. As a consequence he cannot tolerate the other criminal’s insults.

Verse 42

Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into
your kingdom.”

The same man began saying these memorable words, which he repeated several times. They could also be translated as:

“Jesus, remember me, when you come with regal glory”.

He assumes Jesus will die and rise and return in regal splendour. This is a stupendous act of faith in these gruelling circumstances. However defective his faith may have been, the penitent thief sought Jesus’ mercy. Although he thought of the Messiah coming in power, our Lord accepted his simple faith and, as usual, responded with overwhelming generosity.

In the 5th century the great St. Augustine taught that Jesus was rejected by the authorities who saw him raise the dead, but was not rejected by the thief who saw him dying on the cross.

The penitent thief’s request is merely that he be remembered when (whenever, that is) the Lord returns.

Verse 43

He replied to him, “Amen, I say to you, today you will
be with me in Paradise.”

Our Lord, in his final words to anyone before he died, said in effect:

“You can be absolutely assured you will not only be remembered,
for you will share in my regal glory. You will not have to wait till
I return. You will share it with me today, before the sun sets.”

Conclusion

These words are indeed spoken in the manner of a King. We should observe that our Blessed Messiah, the Lord Jesus was crucified, finally as a King. He came to set in place a spiritual kingdom, and as its King he died.

“Blessed be His glorious Name, whose Kingdom is forever.” *

* Blessing recited at the proclamation of the Shema:

“Hear O Israel! The LORD is our God, the LORD alone!”
                                                                                                  (Deuteronomy 6: 4)

Shalom!

 

Further Reading

For those who would like a detailed study resource
on the readings for Sunday, please visit:

Agape Bible Study — Last Ordinary Sunday ― Year C

If you require only the section on the Gospel reading,
just scroll down the page.

To view all the material on the Agape website please visit:

www.agapebiblestudy.com

This website is highly recommended:

 

Proclaim the Gospel to Every Creature

(Mark 16: 15)

The real Jesus, is the real answer to the real needs of the world!

     Let us remember God’s teaching, contained in His Word and in doing
     so, remain close to Him. The following are only examples illustrating
     how you can note the gems the Holy Spirit highlights for your on-going
     reflection.

Christ The King

Last Ordinary Sunday     Year C          St. Luke 23: 35 ― 43

1.     Today, we do not see the Messiah as one who should come down like lightening and slay all who oppose Him. However we can slip into a habit
of leaving to Him, whatever it takes to spread the Faith; and let ourselves
lay back and take it all for granted. This raises the question: Just what do
we expect of the Messiah of the Scriptures? And how does that impact on
each of us?

2.     St. Augustine put it in a nutshell: The Messiah was rejected by the
educated authorities who saw Him raise the dead to life, but was not
rejected by the thief who saw Him dying on the Cross. St Paul of the
Cross taught people to read the Crucifix as a book, and to meditate on it
frequently. This is, in fact, critical for those who wish to follow the Lord
through hardship to glory. In Hebrew Christian spirituality the Crucifix is
much treasured as a representation of the love and sacrifice the Messiah
Jesus offered on our behalf to the Father. Beholding the Lord crucified is
like looking into a prism in which the pure Light of the World is
transformed into sevenfold light for the world ― to show in all its fullness
the true love of God for humanity. Indeed it brings us out of darkness into
the Light.

(See “A Visit To The Crucifix”)

3.     Jesus, our Messiah and Lord came to establish His Kingdom and to
enlist us to help Him build it. At no time did He ever teach only about the
joys of being His members. He stated clearly how real and demanding
many of the hardships would be for those who follow Him. But likewise
He also imparted magnificent descriptions of the spiritual benefits enjoyed
by faithful followers. He is our King, and we belong to His Kingdom: but
there is much to be done before He returns to complete its establishment.
The privilege is ours to pass on to others the spiritual blessings of the
Faith and to take the Light of Christ to them. For that we need to be well
versed in the knowledge of Scripture and the teaching of the Church; these
form us in the mind of Christ.
(Isaiah 40: 10 ― 13 and 1 Corinthians 2: 16)

Let us pray for one another that we will take the Kingship of our Lord
seriously and take pride in being called by Him:

“If any would come after me, let them deny themselves, take up their
cross daily, and follow me.” (Luke 9: 23)

Shalom!

Click here for a printable copy of these Reflections

 

Luke 23: 35 — 43

Last Ordinary Sunday     Year C

NEW AMERICAN BIBLE

35   The people stood by and watched; the rulers, meanwhile, sneered
       at him and said, “He saved others, let him save himself if he is the
       chosen one, the Messiah of God.”

36   Even the soldiers jeered at him. As they approached to offer him
       wine

37   they called out, “If you are King of the Jews, save yourself.”

38   Above him there was an inscription that read, “This is the King of
       the Jews.”

39   6 Now one of the criminals hanging there reviled Jesus, saying,
       “Are you not the Messiah? Save yourself and us.”

40   The other, however, rebuking him, said in reply, “Have you no fear
       of God, for you are subject to the same condemnation?

41   And indeed, we have been condemned justly, for the sentence we    
       received corresponds to our crimes, but this man has done
       nothing criminal.”

42   Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your   
       kingdom.”

43   He replied to him, “Amen, I say to you, today you will be with me
       in Paradise.”

6 [39-43] This episode is recounted only in this gospel. The penitent sinner receives salvation through the crucified Jesus. Jesus’ words to the penitent thief reveal Luke’s understanding that the destiny of the Christian is “to be with Jesus.”

            Scripture texts in this work are taken from the New American Bible, revised
edition (c) 2010, 1991, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine,
Washington D.C. and are used by permission of the copyright owner.
All Rights Reserved. No part of the New American Bible may be reproduced
in any form without permission in writing from the copyright owner.

 

[Site Under Construction]