Outcasts Who Enter the Kingdom Before Us

by | Nov 15, 2022 | Formation, Reflections

Jesus does not turn down the outcasts that come to him, but welcomes them.  He promises to give them God’s kingdom.

We celebrate the solemn feast of Jesus Christ, King of the universe.  And the Church sends us back to the place called “The Skull.”  There, they crucify Jesus and two wrongdoers, outcasts, one on the right and one on the left.

And to gaze with love on Jesus on the cross is to call to mind his teaching:  to be great means to serve others and to die for them.  Hence, Jesus is the King of kings since he hangs on the cross as a servant of the outcasts.

No, his kingdom does not have to do at all with the glory and the power of the world.  For him. to reign is to serve, to love to the end, to give up the body and to shed blood.  Through his blood, we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins, and a new peace pact is sealed.

And he saves us, he redeems us, by being God-with-us, by being like us in all things but sin, by staying with us.  He is not ashamed to call us brothers and sisters nor does he flee from sinners.  Rather, he eats with us and seeks us.

Jesus Christ is the King of the universe, but he will take the outcasts every time.

Jesus goes to great lengths, yes, to reach the outcasts; it is from their point of view that he preaches the Good News.  He is at their side.  They, in turn, show up where he is:  shepherds, women, prodigal sons, tax collectors, harlots, lepers.

And crucified with wrongdoers, Jesus, of course, looks more like a helpless wrongdoer than a powerful king.  More like the king of the outcasts than the king of the Jews.  In fact, the rulers and the soldiers mock him.  And one of the wrongdoers —they look at him from their lot as doomed wrongdoers— challenges him as a way to slight him:  “Are you not the Messiah?  Save yourself and us.”

But the other wrongdoer, not angry nor bitter, but sorry and full of hope, says: “Jesus, remember me when you come to your kingdom.”  And Jesus does not turn him down, but welcomes him.  It turns out that there is truth in the irony of a helpless king of the outcasts.  Shame is glory, death is life, the outcast is King.  For he assures of salvation the one who is sorry and hopes:  “Amen, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.”

And we, in turn, cannot better assure that we enter the kingdom of God than by following to the end the King of the outcasts (SV.EN III:384).

Lord Jesus, King of justice and peace, make us care, as you do, for the poor and the outcasts.

20 November 2022
34th Sunday in O.T (C) – Jesus Christ, King of the Universe
2 Sam 5, 1-3; Col 1, 12-20; Lk 23, 35-43