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The Word, The Truth

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On the last Sunday of the liturgical calendar, the Church celebrates the Kingship of Christ. This year the gospel is taken from the passion narrative of Luke (23:35:43), where Jesus of Nazareth meets his fate: crucified at the place called the Skull between two criminals, with one joining in the mocking of Jesus, while the other correcting him and acknowledging the innocence of Jesus and so was promised paradise; insulted by leaders and Roman soldiers, and officially identified as “the King of the Jews”, (cf s1S#6 INRI 11/22/20).

In the gospel, there is both the pain of opposition (vv35-38) and the consolation of conversion (39-42). But this particular section of the crucifixion narrative centers theologically on the recognition of Jesus especially in the titles accorded him. Everything said of Jesus by his enemies is ironically accurate- the chosen one, the Messiah of God, the savior of his people who became such not by “saving himself” but by surrendering his life in order to take it up again and leading others to life as well (9:22f). The inscription on the cross (v38) captures a central feature of his earthly mission: he is the promised messiah, descendant of David. In all these is encapsulated the salvific work of Jesus, (the name given by the angel, 1:31, traceable to the Hebrew “Yeshua” meaning salvation, savior, to save)

The Greek term sōzō ( σωζω ) “save”, occurs more than a hundred times in varied contexts in the NT. In today’s gospel it is uttered in succession in the threefold taunt coming from the “leaders” (v35), “the soldiers” (v36), one of the criminals (v39), situated, though, in the context of hatred and opposition yet highlights the salvific significance of Jesus’ crucifixion in the Lucan gospel. He is crucified precisely as “savior”. The regal status that he will achieve, once he has entered “his glory” (24:26) and been exalted (Acts 2:32-36), will not be without saving effect on suffering human beings, even crucified criminals. Thus, among the evangelists, only Luke makes clear that the destiny of the Christian is something that transcends this life and the death with which it ends, (cf Col 1:3). That destiny is freely granted by the Savior-King to one who is repentant (metanoia) and turns to the source of salvation.

Christ is indeed the King of the Universe and the Savior of the World. Entitled King yet he teaches from the cross as the king who imparts forgiveness and whose sovereignty is compassion. He is the Savior of everyone who repents and turns to him as the fount of salvation. Like the good thief, let us ask our savior and king for forgiveness so that he may truly reign in our hearts and bring us to his heavenly kingdom. Amen.

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Veritas Editorial

Rev. Fr. Anton CT Pascual

Rev. Fr. Anton CT Pascual

President of Radio Veritas

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