The Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe
November 20, 2016 – Year C
Readings: 2 Sm 5:1-3 / Ps 122 / Col 1:12-20 / Lk 23:35-43
by Rev. Salvador Añonuevo, Pastor
Today we celebrate the feast of Christ the King, which is the last Sunday in the liturgical calendar, and this year is also the last day of the Year of Mercy. It is the hope of our Holy Mother Church that the emphasis on God’s infinite mercy this past year will remain with us to ponder upon and reflect on for the rest of our lives.
More than a decade ago, I had the privilege to know a priest who celebrated God’s mercy every day of his life. Every year for him was a year of mercy. His name is Father Edward Richardson. I am blessed to have had him as a friend and confessor all those years I was in the Virginia Beach area, until he was born into eternal life.
I used to visit him after my morning Mass in the parish, and his default remark when he welcomed me to his retirement home was usually something like: “Jesus Christ, my Lord and King, is indeed a good and merciful God, because when I looked at the obituary section of the local newspaper this morning, my name was not there yet, which means I am still alive.” He would say this with a big smile on his face.
Over the years, he developed the habit of counting the blessings he received every day. The blessing he considered the greatest is God’s infinite mercy. He also used to say that, because our Lord is a merciful God, he has the tendency to give us more than what we ask Him for.
In today’s gospel, we heard the story of the good thief, who asked the Lord to remember him when He gets to His kingdom. The Lord Jesus could have just answered, “Yes, I will,” but He did more than just that. Saint Luke the Evangelist relates to us that the Lord, in His infinite kindness and mercy, said, “Today you will be with me in paradise.”
This good thief, who is traditionally called Dismas, could be considered the first canonized saint. The Church doesn’t need to meet all the written requirements for beatification and canonization for him to be formally considered a saint, because the Lord Jesus Himself already canonized him while he was still hanging on the cross.
What did he do to deserve such an honor? He was humble enough to acknowledge Jesus as his Lord and King. The same Jesus who made this glorious promise to Saint Dismas, the good thief, is the same Jesus who is in our midst right now as we pray together, celebrating the holy sacrifice of the Mass. And the same Jesus whose body, blood, soul, and divinity we will receive in Holy Communion.
Like Saint Dismas, may we continue to acknowledge and renew our faith and commitment to Him as our Lord and King every single day of our lives, until we all gather together in His eternal kingdom.