Today, as we celebrate Christ the King, we are giving the image of Him on the cross. We heard a few times in the gospel that they wanted Him to prove Himself as the King by coming down from the cross, and He proved His kingship by remaining on the cross. This cross became His throne. It is this cross and Jesus’ crucified that we look to save us.
Hopefully, we will have a cross in our homes. There should be a crucifix in every Catholic home and if you can, every room in your home. It’s so important to have this image because this is our salvation. Jesus saves us, not by coming down from the cross, but by offering Himself out of love for us.
Quite a few years ago, I began a tradition in the morning. This is actually the crucifix that I have in my bedroom. I was reading something by one of the mystics, Saint Bernard of Clairvaux. He was writing a commentary on the Song of Songs where he said, “Though we are unworthy to kiss Him on the lips, let us kiss Him on the feet.”
My ritual in the morning, the first thing I do when I get out of bed is walk over to this crucifix and kiss His feet. Then I lay down on the floor cruciform. I put my arms out like a cross and I lay down and I say, “Jesus I give my life to you.” I ask Him to shape me more and more into His image. We are shaped by the cross in our own lives as we are crucified with Him, as we give ourselves to Him.
He is our Savior, not because He came down from the cross, but because He remained on the cross. Until we really understand that, that He did this for you. This wasn’t just something that He did two thousand years ago; He did this and does this for you right now. So, at every Eucharist this is called the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. At every Eucharist He is sacrificing Himself for us. It’s called an unbloody sacrifice so it’s not like Christ is right now being crucified again but He is sacrificing Himself for each and every one of us.
There are two thieves, one on the left and one on the right and who is known as the bad thief said to Him the same line, “If you are the Christ come down from the cross save us and save yourself. Save me from the cross, and save yourself from the cross.”
We are tempted to come down from the cross. In each of our lives, whatever our vocation maybe there will be a cross in our lives that we must embrace and be united with Jesus in our suffering.
But this temptation of Jesus to come down from the cross, He proves His Kingship by remaining there and He remains there on the cross for each and every one of us to be saved. This just wasn’t something that 2000 years ago was just for those people then. The reason we celebrate Mass every Sunday is so that we can come to Him, and He can save us. He saves us by taking our sin to Himself.
So, as we celebrate this Eucharist and during the consecration, we’ll hear that phrase, “Do this in remembrance of Me.” Jesus, remember me when You come into Your Kingdom. And, as we come to Him and celebrate the Eucharist, it’s so important that we bring our sins to Him and that we ask Him to free us from our sins.
I don’t know if any of you have tried to free yourself from your own sin. Has that ever worked out for you? Right? We need Him. We need Him to free us from our sins.
As we celebrate this Eucharist and He comes to us in this unbloody sacrifice, He takes all of our sin into Him. He absorbs our sin and allows it to be crucified with Him on the cross and He does it with love for you. I think until we understand that and until we understand what this crucifix means, why He dies on the cross for us, why He wants to take our sins to Himself, it’s very hard for us to not be like the bad thief that says, “Just come down from the cross” and to God, “God just let me offer this cross.” He does this out of love for you.
Do you really understand that? Do you really believe that He does this to take away your sins?
Then, as you come forward to receive the Eucharist, as I said before, instead of kissing His feet, we’re actually going to receive His body and blood, soul and Divinity into our mouths and experience such a union with Him that we will enter into His Passion. That we will become crucified with Him, that we will die with Him, and also that we will rise with Him.
As you come forward to the Eucharist today, I want you to bring forward with you whatever that sin is in your life, whatever you need to be saved from or freed from, and offer that to Jesus because He wants to free you from that. He dies for you so that He may free you from that.
We remember today what the good thief said to Jesus, “Remember me when you come into your Kingdom.” Here’s the cool thing, He’s just saying, “Jesus remember me; that’s all I want.” Jesus does something far more drastic than what he’s asking for. He says, “Today, this very day, you will be with Me in paradise.”
So, for each and every one of us who is celebrating this Mass today, if we bring forward our sins, if we acknowledge that we are sinful, we offer our sins, we receive Him in Body and Blood, and we get to be with Him in Paradise.
Jesus, remember me when you come into your Kingdom.