Every Sunday, Bishop Edward Malesic writes a Scripture reflection for the faithful. Follow the bishop on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
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Today is the last Sunday of our liturgical year. Can you believe it? Next week we start all over again with the First Sunday in Advent!
So, what does the Church want us to reflect on as we end this year-long cycle of readings and liturgies? The Church wants us to reflect on how much we have allowed Jesus to rule our hearts. Have we made him our Lord?
The Second Reading from Saint Paul’s Letter to the Colossians, with its focus on the divinity of Christ Jesus, helps us to understand just how powerful a king, our Messiah is. Christ is the image of the invisible God. He created the heavens and the earth, things visible and invisible, the material reality in which we live and the spiritual reality of angels and heaven itself. God’s only Son was before the earth was. And just as God’s son created in the past, so now “in him all things hold together.” Without Christ we would not be. He is the first to rise from the dead (our resurrection is yet to come). He is the head of the Church — and without our head we would be a lifeless body. Everything has been reconciled through him. He has brought the world to God and God to the world, “making peace by the blood of his cross.”
Yes, we have a powerful God in Jesus Christ, who is completely united to God the Father and God the Holy Spirit and he walked among us: “And the Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us, and we saw his glory, the glory as of the Father’s only Son, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14).
But the last reading of the final Sunday of our liturgical year focuses our attention on the humanity of Christ. We reflect on the flesh and blood of Jesus that he offered for us at his crucifixion, “making peace by the blood of his cross.”
The crucifixion opens up the heart of God’s love for us. The all-powerful, never-changing Creator of the universe, the God who emptied himself out of heaven to take human form on earth, the God who made his dwelling among us and walked with us, gave his life for us by taking all of our sins on himself, nailing them to the cross with him, and washing them away with his blood. He gave his very life so that we might have life. He died so that we might live again. Sin - all that keeps us from God and separates us from one another - was washed away in the sea of God’s mercy on the cross. On the cross, Jesus reunited us to God and reconciled us to one another.
And that is why when everyone else was mocking Jesus on the cross, from the rulers of Israel to the soldiers of Rome, and most in the crowd who came to see a just man die, a thief who was executed beside Jesus called out in his fear of ultimate death, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” And that thief, who submitted himself to his creator and his savior, received the promise of our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe, “Today you will be with me in paradise.”
And, my friends, that is not only the final sentence that the Church wants us to hear on this last Sunday of our liturgical cycle, but also the first sentence the Church wants us to hear when we come before the throne of God. The Church wants all believers to ultimately hear the words of Jesus, crucified and gloriously reigning now in Heaven, “Today you will be with me in paradise.”
This is our hope. This is why we submit ourselves to the authority of Jesus over any other person. Only Jesus can promise and provide paradise. He has shown himself to be both the good shepherd who leads his sheep and the king who gave his life for his subjects. Jesus is the King of the Universe. More importantly, he is my king. He is your king!
Finally, as we enter into the week of Thanksgiving, let me thank God for all of you. You are a great blessing to me.
Have a great week everyone, and remember to be thankful to God for every good gift, including the gift of his Son, Jesus Christ, King of the universe. Our Lord.