Summary: A reflection on the three crosses of Calvary in relation to the Kingship of Christ.
SEPTEMBER 23, 2001
·First Reading 2 Sam. 5:1-
·Second Reading Col. 1:12-20
·Gospel Lk. 23:35-43
Long ago, a preacher shared with his congregation the urgency of repentance. To his passionate plea, one of the members replied, “Remember the dying thief?” Without missing a step, the preacher answered, “Which dying thief?” Tonight, we meet those two dying thieves as we reflect on the Kingship of Christ in relation to the Three Crosses of Calvary, namely, the Cross of Rejection, the Cross of Reception and the Cross of Redemption.
Our reflection begins with the Cross of Rejection, which holds a man dying in sin. This thief, traditionally known as Gestas, represents those who stubbornly refuse to repent even after experiencing God’s Love. Like any other criminal, he must have tried to bend heaven and earth to his own advantage. But now, on the brink of eternity and pinned to his cross, he is left with just two choices, namely, to accept or reject Christ the King. Hardened by countless crimes, he rejects Divine Grace rather than assume the posture of allegiance. Instead, he joins the mob in their brutal attack on Christ. Together, they tragically fail to recognize the promised King, Who came to shepherd rather than dominate, to serve rather than be served, and, ultimately, to give His life as ransom for many.
In contrast, the Cross of Reception holds a man dying to sin. This thief, traditionally known as Demas, allows divine love to clear his vision and see the mighty difference between good and evil. Having led a life of rebellion himself, he knows he deserves to suffer, but moved by the LORD’s quiet majesty and calm dignity, he exclaims, “LORD, remember me when You come into Your Kingdom.” In utter defiance of the crowd, he unites himself with the King, completely trusting in our Savior’s power over life and death. His display of allegiance moves our Redeemer to respond with authority, "…today, you will be with Me in Paradise.” Demas’ simple request to be remembered is generously granted, as he becomes the King’s escort to Paradise and the first fruit of redemption.
This brings us to the Cross of Redemption, which holds our King dying for sin. In biblical times, it was customary to transfer the inhabitants of a defeated kingdom into the victorious one. Having defeated the kingdom of darkness through the Cross of Redemption, our Savior regains Paradise that was lost because of man’s iniquity and transfers us to His Kingdom, as Paul teaches us in Colossians. By His Cross, justice and peace, man and God, are finally able to meet and kiss. Thus, it is no coincidence that our faith has chosen the meek but majestic Cross as the banner of discipleship and the symbol of our allegiance to Christ the King.
In summary, Sunday’s Readings paradoxically present Christ the King on His Cross, suffering and agonizing but showing grace and majesty. The Three Crosses of Calvary teach us that allegiance to Christ the King ensures the promised salvation. Every now and then, our allegiance to Christ is challenged by way of physical and spiritual battles. Demas reminds us to make a stand even though we may find ourselves outnumbered and confronted with hate and anger. The Gospel also reminds us that it is never too late to turn to the LORD Jesus Christ. So long as there is life, the King’s invitation to enter His courts knocks upon our hearts, for the Cross of Redemption transcends time, having the power to qualify even the very last child conceived (Acts 2:39). Hence, our Order for the week reads, “Give thanks to the Father, Who has qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints in light” (Col. 1:12).