“Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” He replied, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in Paradise.” (Luke 23:42-43)
I saw my first Christmas tree today – large, bright and tinselly – dominating a suburban square. I’m sure it’s not the first to be erected, but it is the first I’ve noticed. It’s mid-November, and it seems a little early to start decking the halls with flowers of holly. Conversely, it seems a little late in the year to be looking at these words from Luke’s Gospel about Jesus’ crucifixion. Didn’t we deal with all that back in April?
In truth, Jesus’ life has always been understood in reverse. Historically, the resurrection was the starting point of faith. If there had been no resurrection, the cross would have been the end of Jesus’ story, but the fact that Jesus rose from the dead led His followers to rethink the crucifixion, and that led people to go back and re-examine His life, and even His birth. In other words, we have always understood the birth of Jesus through His death, which makes Luke’s grizzly scene of the three men being crucified together the perfect introduction to the silly season.
Having said that, I suspect the reason we were given this scene from the crucifixion this week has less to do with Christmas than it has to do with the feast of “Christ the King” which is celebrated this Sunday. These dying words of the criminal – “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” – proclaim Christ as king. Of course, it seems like a very ironic proclamation, and the cross, an ironic coronation. What sense does it make to speak of Jesus’ kingship when He is suffering and dying with people standing around mocking Him? This though is the language of faith that manages to see a better future on the other side of blood and suffering.
The feast of Christ the King is a relatively new Holy Day. It was inaugurated by Pope Pius IX in 1925 when the world was in a very uncertain state. Mussolini had just celebrated his third year in office in Italy. A young rabble-rouser by the name of Adolph Hitler had been out of jail for a year, and his ‘Nazi Party’ was growing in popularity in Germany. The world was in the grip of the ‘Great Depression’. They were volatile times, not unlike our own, and Pius thought that it was time to remind the world who was really in charge.
“Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” These are words that echo from the underside of history. They are words of hope, spoken in pain, and they are met with a promise, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in Paradise.”
Sunday Eucharist and Bush Bash
Our dear brother, Doug Pyeatt, managed to join us this week, after being cut off from us the previous Sunday due to the intense wind, hail and snow in Washington State (USA). Our dear sisters, Kamini Singh and Karyn Hemming, enjoyed much better weather in Sydney. Father Ola and I were out at Binacrombi where we had to make the decision early Sunday morning as to whether we should flee the property or risk being cut off by rising flood waters. We knew that there would be no Sunday Eucharist if we left so we stayed. The weather then suddenly improved and we enjoyed a wonderful Eucharist and, later, a gentle drive home.
Please check out the site and let me know what you think. It’s not complete yet but it should be functional. You should be able to connect to our weekly broadcast directly through the page and, hopefully, you’ll still be able to interact with us through comments as the site will be using the YouTube player. Even so, I’m not entirely sure it will work. I’ll need some of you guys to try it out this week and let me know.
The not-so-good news is that I haven’t lined up anyone as yet to join me this Sunday. If you’d like to volunteer, please do. As ever, we’ll get going at the usual time of around 11.45 am. You’ll find us at www.thesundayeucharist.com as well as on the old channels:
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What’s on this week?
- Saturday, November 19 – Worldwide Freedom Rally (see pic below)
- Sunday, November 20 – The Sunday Eucharist at midday
- Tuesday, November 22 – Boxing from 6.30 pm @The Fight Lab
- Thursday, November 24 – Boxing from 6.30 pm @The Fight Lab
May God Almighty bless and strengthen you for the work to which you have been called.
Your brother in the Good Fight,