Reflection 1
Curious that the celebration of Jesus Christ as Universal King should call us to remember Him hanging crucified on the cross.

Kings are powerful, mighty, commanding respect and admiration. They are men who hold their peoples together, in unity – men by whom nations are identified and in whom their subjects take pride. Kings fight for the safety of their people, to protect and defend them against all manner of enemies.

We can watch Jesus in one of two ways, there as He hangs on the cross. We can see a weak, bloody man, running out of breath; not able any longer to hold His head up; not able to see clearly through the blood flowing from the wounds the thorns have made; a coward, who won’t answer the words of abuse and mockery being shouted at Him; He doesn’t even seem to pay any heed to the bare handful of His friends who have remained to see Him so humiliated.

King indeed! What kind of king is this, who would let such lies be tossed about, without even trying to defend Himself?

But His Father – what does He see?

Could it be … LOVE? How can we learn love, from One who is barely alive – how can He be teaching us and showing us the way … from the cross?!

Let us stand there, watching Jesus.

Jesus – in the midst of all the evil to which He is subjected …

… absorbs every ounce of it, silently He takes it to Himself and watch …

Watch how He doesn’t pass it on.

Listen to the lies and the abusive words ringing in His ears – and watch how when they are absorbs into Him, they die … not leaving even an echo behind. … And the criminal, who says to Him, ‘save yourself and us as well’.

But watch Jesus – and see a King indeed –

Who indeed is fighting. He is standing firm and unafraid, not nourishing and giving life to the evil, but soaking up every last drop of it, even as His blood is being poured out. He is fighting against the evil which every one of us can be tempted to give in to, and watching Jesus – we learn what we must do when we think we are overcome. We can be people who refuse to give in to the malice and hatred we encounter; we can be people who will not give up hope, who will not let go of the joy of our faith in Jesus,Who has so mightily, so majestically, so powerfully saved us.

We can fight back, by loving – loving those who do not love us in return or as they should; loving those whose pain or anger or suffering has led them to turn away from Christ’s Body – by absorbing their pain, their hurt, their anger, their suffering, bearing it within ourselves and giving it to the Lord, confident that His words to the thief are true for us too … “I promise you … you will be with me in Paradise”.

Let us prove ourselves to be truly His, by watching Jesus, seeing Him silently fighting and winning, as He gives up His life for us – shamelessly and confidently holding fast to the joy that is ours in our faith in Him.

Let not His head be hanging sorrowfully because we are losing hope in His power to heal and renew us, because we who believe in Him are ashamed of our King.

Reflection 2

Jesus said, “I came not to do my own will but the will of Him who sent me.”

Mary said, “Behold the handmaid of the Lord be it done to me according to your Word”

Our parents, grandparents and all our Irish loved ones in the faith, in one way or another made the sentiments of the great Irish hymn their own:

Christ the King and Lord of all,
Find me ready at thy call,
Christ receive my service whole,
Mind and body, heart and soul.

All of them surrendered themselves to the will of God. Today The Church in her Sacred Liturgy invites us to enter into the Mystery of Christ the King and to renew our desire and willingness to allow Him to have full reign over our lives- mind and body, heart and soul.

The Gospel given to us for today’s Feast could have been subtitled ‘A Treatise on Conversion’ or perhaps in more modern parlance ‘A how to Gospel’. How to be converted in three easy steps.

Step one: Look at Jesus. In Him we see what conversion looks like. I ask myself, do I remotely resemble Him? As he hangs on the Cross stripped of all human glory, a man despised and rejected, he retains a quiet dignity. Totally free, He meets brutal jeers and belittlements with serenity. He feels no need to defend himself or point out the error of their ways to others, no need to prove Himself or show His power. There is in Him no anxiety because he is being misjudged, no sense of threat. What is his secret? How is it possible for Him to respond with love to some much hatred and meanness?
Jesus knows Himself to be the Beloved of the Father. He knows Himself to be doing the Father’s will. Nothing else has any power over Him. The Father’s will alone consumes Him.

Step two: Look at the crowd, the leaders, the soldiers, and the criminal. In them we see the obstacles we place in the way of conversion. Right now Jesus is as present with us as He was to them on Calvary. He is loving us just as He was loving them. What prevented them and what prevent us from experiencing that love? It would seem to be hardness of heart, anger, bitterness, resentment, calumny, false judgement, a need to blame others for the way we are instead of taking responsibility for our own sins and weakness. Jesus love sometimes doesn’t reach us simply because we haven’t come home to ourselves. Jesus is loving us just as we are but if we are ‘lost in sins own blindness’, hitting out at others and failing to see ourselves, unable to acknowledge or accept the truth of ourselves we are not present to receive that love. But the wonder is that this very place can also be a place of redemption. This place of death can become the place of Resurrection . Because of Jesus there lies the opportunity of grace within every sin. Any sin once acknowledged is a spring board to union with Jesus. It becomes the place of a loving encounter with Jesus. And that brings us to step three.

Step three: In the good thief we see what needs to happen if we are to be converted. Both thieves are guilty, both have committed crimes but the good thief acknowledges his sin, owns it, takes personal responsibility for it and in that moment, which too is a moment of grace, the scales drop from his eyes and he is able to see Jesus and an encounter can take place. The encounter Jesus has lived and died for. Jesus the friend of sinners befriends him and assures him of a place with him always not because he is good but simply because he repented and turned to Jesus.

The late Abbot Kevin O’Farrell of Tarrawarra insists that to accept the gifts God continually offers there must be a corresponding letting go, and that without that letting go there can be no growth, no conversion. This will apply all our lives and the last thing we will be asked to let go of will be life itself. Without death there will be no Resurrection. It would seem that in this Gospel the required disposition is a letting go of all pretences, all self justification, a movement out of denial and projection into acceptance of our reality as sinners. This will be an on going process all our lives. As we are more and more transformed into Jesus He will continue to reveal to us that we are sinners in need of his mercy. So perhaps he is encouraging us not to be downhearted when we see new unredeemed areas in ourselves. Every moment of repentance is an opportunity to receive Jesus’ love anew until he has complete possession of us and truly reigns as sovereign Lord in our hearts
To Mary and with Mary we pray. Loose the bonds that bind us lost in sins own blindness that with eyes now opened God’s own love may guide us.