Well, 2,000 years ago, the mighty pagan Roman Empire ruled a giant portion of the known world. It persecuted the newly emerging Christians for three hundred years simply because they refused to deny the Truth about Jesus. But today that pagan “empire” that was based on power is completely gone. In fact, not a single government that existed 2,000 years remains in operation today. However, the Christian Church survives in the fullness of His truth! It’s not based on power, but on powerlessness.
Today, as many are preparing for conversion preparation (RCIA classes), and for those studying the Early Church Fathers, the Creed has crucial and central importance. In that Creed, we profess our Faith – the foundation of our Christinity – that “we believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ: who rose again on the third day, fulfilment of the scriptures.” We are professing that this man called Jesus, who suffered and died on the cross, rose again – is indeed the King of Kings, the Messiah. Somehow he is with us at all times, even in our own suffering; he is still Christ our King.
This is why today’s gospel (Luke 23:35-43) is so ironic. All those who ridiculed and reviled and jeered and sneered at him did not accept him as Messiah; they thought the Messiah would come again in great power- to overcome the power of Rome. Yet here was their King, and God, right before their eyes, and they did not recognise him because of his powerlessness! But our gospel indicates that at least one person recognised and accepted Jesus: He too was a criminal! Jesus’ words of forgiveness bring hope to our hearts: “Today you will be with me in Paradise.” If a criminal can make a last moment’s conversion, then there is hope for each one of us- if we humbly return to him. That is the Good News!
Jesus revealed himself as a King who was a “suffering servant” – a meaning that would only become clear when he was raised high on the cross. Jesus hears the prayers of faith; so we must make sure that those prayers come from our inner hearts.