Christ the King Sunday. The meaning of Forgiveness
was sentenced to death. His crime was blasphemy. He said He was God.
Both Rome and Israel demanded death for blasphemy. There was only one
God. For Rome, it was Caesar. For the Hebrews, it was Yahweh. The
inscription over Him said, "This is the King of the Jews." Jesus suffers
three hours of pain.
is the last Sunday of the Church Year. Advent One will be the New Year.
Why was this Scripture chosen to be the last one celebrated? What we
can learn is a lot about God's forgiveness.
was the presence of great anger. For some it was rejoicing anger after
several years of defeat. There was the obvious anger of the Pharisees.
They hated Jesus. He had made fools of them. There were their followers.
They were the righteous with the "serves Him right" anger. "We warned
you not to go too far". "You did not listen to us". The anger was the
"we win" that follows the pain and the blame feeling and thinking. The
people and the leaders scoffed at Him, saying, "He saved others; let Him
save himself if He is the Messiah of God, His chosen one!"
was the anger of the Roman soldiers. It was an inconvenient anger. If
you hadn't done what you did we could be back in our barracks. They
mocked Him, "If You are the King of the Jews, save Yourself!"
was the man on the cross going through the violent pain that never
seemed to cease. He kept deriding Jesus, "Are You not the Messiah? Save
Yourself and us!"
came the response from other man at His side. It was not the anger to
cover pain. It was pure grace and insight that came with understanding
of forgiveness. He understood what Jesus meant saying, "Father, forgive
them; for they do not know what they are doing." The criminal rebuked
the other, "Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence
of condemnation? We indeed have been condemned justly, for we are
getting what we deserve for our deeds, but this man has done nothing
wrong." Then he said, "Jesus, remember me when you come into your
kingdom." Jesus replied, "Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in
Paradise." This is the only person on that Hill who was forgiven as far
as we know. What we miss here is that Jesus did forgive everyone. His
forgiveness was not for the others but for Himself. His forgiveness was
for not blaming others for His pain.
are called to "look to Jesus the author and perfecter of our faith, who
for the JOY that was set before Him endured the cross, despising shame.
Hebrews 12:2. Jesus forgave by not blaming them for what happened. It
was in order for Him to enter into the Joy of the Lord. Jesus promises
us to receive a "Joy nothing can take from us". This Joy is not the joy
of what happened to us. There are terrible things we must sometimes
endure. It is the Joy of being IN the situation not ABOUT it. What good
does grace Joy do? "The Joy of the Lord is our strength." Nehemiah 8:10.
We have all found the joy about winning something. Now find the Joy of
the Lord IN not ABOUT a losing situation. Find the strength the Presence
of the Lord can give us. It happens when we can stop blaming outside
persons or events for our pain. We can then open up to the power that
comes from the grace of His Joy not ours.
election season has created a lot of anger from both sides. There will
be tremendous disagreement and anger over issues of immigration, right
to life, the Supreme Court appointment and so on. There will be marches
and protests on both sides no matter which party won or lost. There is
truth on both sides. We need to protest for and against what we see is
justice and injustice. Anger can make us all victims. We need to
discover the Joy not about the event but being in the Joy of His grace.
We will then be empowered by His Love and directed by His Peace.
you think about it, what person or event makes you angry? It has also
made you a victim whether you won or lost. Forgive yourself of blaming
them for your anger. Now open yourself by wondering what difference
being in the Joy of the grace of God. Feel the power of His Joy. This is
what Jesus did. The rest is up to you. ~ Fr. Paul