During that time, [dopo che ebbero crocifisso Gesù,] the people watched; the leaders, on the other hand, mocked Jesus saying: «He saved others! Save yourself, if he is the Christ of God, the chosen one».
Even the soldiers mocked him, they approached him to offer him vinegar and said: “If you are the king of the Jews, save yourself”. Above him was also an inscription: “This is the King of the Jews.”
One of the criminals hanging on the cross insulted him: «Aren’t you the Christ? Save yourself and us!” The other instead rebuked him saying: «Have you no fear of God, you who are condemned to the same punishment? We, rightly so, because we receive what we have deserved for our actions; but he has done nothing wrong.”
And 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” (Lk 23:35-43).
Today, Sunday 20 November is the solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ King of the Universe (XXXIV Sunday in Ordinary Time, year C, liturgical color white).
Commenting on the Gospel of the Holy Mass is the priest Andrea Nico Grossi of the Friars Minor of the church of San Bernardino, in Saluzzo. Love, life, values, spirituality are enclosed in his reflection for “Splinters of Light, thoughts on the festive Gospels”, a column that aims to be a tender caress for all souls in this valley of exile. Thoughts and words in perfect Franciscan style, which are like sparks to ignite the reasons for hope. Here it is, the comment.
“After exhausting all temptations, the devil withdrew from him until the appointed time” (Lk 4:13). We are in the desert, after the forty days of fasting. When they were finished, Jesus was hungry. Then the devil said to him: “If you are the Son of God, tell this stone to become bread” (Lk 4:2f). The moment of weakness and fragility is the opportune time for the devil; our fragility opens a way for him. So it does like those predators who approach the dying animal, when it can no longer defend itself, to feed on its flesh. God joins us to help us, the devil to ruin us.
In Jesus’ earthly life, he returns to the attack at the moment that is propitious for him: “When they came to the place called Cranio, they crucified him and the criminals, one on the right and one on the left” (Lk 23:33). It is the moment of greatest weakness for the Lord, after being brutally humiliated and tortured, he is nailed to the cross.
Those who stand under the cross lend their voice to the evil one, becoming his incarnation: they “mock” and “insulte” men who are suffering atrociously: mercy is dead.
Here then is the temptation: “Save yourself!” (Lk 23:35;37;39). On the one hand there is God’s plan: “give yourself”, on the other that of the evil one: “save yourself”. Jesus is called to make a choice and choosing means personally paying an enormous price. We do not believe that, due to the fact that he is God, in those moments he did not put in all the effort of every man.
Let us not forget the words of the Psalm spoken by the Lord himself: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”. Who knows how many thoughts went through his mind in those moments: «If you let yourself be killed, who will fight for them? – Will everyone think that God is weak? – Can you do much more good if you stay on earth? – So disappoint your people who followed you and they will get lost? – Do you think about your mother and the pain you are giving her? – If you let yourself be killed, all is lost…».
Such an inhuman world, where there are those who go to see the death of men and others laugh and laugh, cannot be accepted, it must be taken care of. Saint John Chrysostom writes: «The just man prefers the salvation of others to his own; when others suffer, he does not care for their happiness.’
If Jesus had chosen to save himself, he would have canonized inhumanity and there would be no more hope: the world sick and dehumanized by indifference would have no cure. Instead Jesus says: «Now my soul is troubled; what will i say? Father, save me from this hour? But that is precisely why I have come to this hour!” (Jn 12:27). Jesus accepts death, to save you and me, so that it is no longer possible to consider lightness in the face of man’s pain as normal; to show the only antibody against the violence of evil: the love that is given.
Only love conquers evil and we are here only to hear ourselves repeated until we drop that, if we want to belong to Christ, we must let ourselves be transformed into love. Let us not hide behind any excuses, but let us collaborate with the grace of God.
Jesus shows us that love is not said, it is done; He shows us that love has a cost, when it’s authentic and if we’re not willing to pay it, we give up on love.
Most Holy Trinity who are God of love, our poor world has an extreme need for tenderness, compassion, presence: make us mediation of Your goodness; let anyone who approaches us feel the scent of your presence and the sweetness of your gaze; let no one ever glimpse in us Your enemy, the Antichrist, the one who rejoices when the human being is humiliated and wounded. He forgives our lack of love.