Speaking the truth while on the cross Print
Sunday scripture column

Kevin Perrotta

Sunday, Nov.24, 2019

The Solemnity of our Lord Jesus Christ
King of the Universe

2 Sm 5:1-3
Psalm: 122:1-5
Col 1:12-20
Lk 23:35-43

"One of the criminals hanging there reviled Jesus" (Lk 23:39).

On an outcropping of limestone just outside a gate of Jerusalem, two men who had committed crimes and one who had not were "hanging." They were hanging in crucifixion, suspended from nails driven through their wrists and ankles.

This was a fiendish method of execution. Once nailed up, the victims tortured themselves to death by pulling and pushing on the nails in the struggle to breathe.

It is hard to imagine how a crucified man could manage to speak at all. Yet one of the three was driven to such a frenzy by his pain that he screamed at a fellow victim: "Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us."

Jesus of Nazareth, hanging beneath a sign board that proclaimed him with cruel sarcasm to be "the King of the Jews," drew all the man's bitterness at a world of failed promises.

In response, the third man spoke up, not in anger but in sorrow. In a brotherly tone, he rebuked the first man: "Have you no fear of God?" He reminded him of the crimes they had committed that led to their condemnation.

And he defended Jesus. "This man has done nothing criminal."

Did he already know something about Jesus? At least, he had heard Jesus praying as he gasped for breath.

It is not surprising to find rage or confession of guilt from men in their death agony. But the third man's next words are astonishing. "Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom."

Looking at Jesus, the man saw no earthly king. On that, both criminals were in agreement -- as was everyone who saw Jesus on the cross.

Not that he had ever pretended to be an earthly king, but if anyone had ever hoped he would be, their hope was now being brutally extinguished.

No, the third man saw that Jesus was a much greater king than that -- a king about to conquer death and open up a realm, a "kingdom," of everlasting life.

The man had no doubt that Jesus, who was dying the same miserable death as his own just a few feet away, was nevertheless Lord in a way that exceeds any earthly rule.

A great gift of God enabled him -- and enables us -- to grasp that reality.

Prayer: Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.

Kevin Perrotta is the editor and an author of the Six Weeks with the Bible series (Loyola Press), teaches part-time at Siena Heights University, and leads Holy Land pilgrimages. He lives in Ann Arbor, Mich.

Pope's November Prayer Intention Print
In 2019, the Pope will present one prepared prayer intention per month, rather than two.
Pope's November Prayer Intention
Dialogue and Reconciliation in the Near East
That a spirit of dialogue, encounter, and reconciliation emerge in the Near East, where diverse religious communities share their lives together.


Daily Scripture Readings Print
Sunday, Sep. 01, 2013 -- 10:21 AM
Click here to view or subscribe to the daily
Scripture readings from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops website.
Holy Days of Obligation Print

The following are Holy Days of Obligation for 2019.

Holy Days of Obligation Description
Tuesday, Jan. 1
Solemnity of Mary the Mother of God
Thursday, May 30
Ascension Thursday
Thursday, Aug. 15
Solemnity of the Assumption
Friday, Nov. 1
All Saints Day
Monday, Dec. 9
Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception
Wednesday, Dec. 25
Solemnity of the Nativity of the Lord (Christmas)
Prayer to St. Raphael Print

photo of Pilgrim Icon of St. Raphael

Glorious Archangel St. Raphael, great prince of the heavenly court, you are illustrious for your gifts of wisdom and grace. You are a guide of those who journey by land or sea or air, consoler of the afflicted, and refuge of sinners.

We beg you, assist us in all our needs and in all the sufferings of this life, as once you helped the young Tobias on his travels. Because you are the "medicine of God" we humbly pray you to heal the many infirmities of our souls and the ills that afflict our bodies.

We especially ask your guidance of our diocese as we journey toward the rebuilding of a cathedral bearing your name, and the great grace of purity to prepare us to be temples of the Holy Spirit. As our intercessor, beg the Blessed Trinity to prosper the work of our hands and, above all, to bring us, face-to-face, into their Holy presence.


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