Jesus Christ is King of Thieves, though he never stole. He is savior of sinners though he himself never sinned.
In the Gospel for today’s feast we have an image for the Church. We like to think of more pleasant images such as the Church being the Bride of Christ or the Body of Christ. Today’s image is less exalted and more humbling to be sure but it is an image just the same: The Church is Christ, crucified between two thieves. Yes, this is the Church too. Somehow we are all thieves. The fact is, we are all sinners and we have all used the gifts and things that belong to God in a way that is contrary to his will. To misuse things that belong to others is a form of theft and we are thus thieves for we have all misused what belongs to God. Consider some of the things we claim as our own and how easily we misuse them: Our bodies, our time, our talents, our money, our gift of speech, our gift of freedom and so forth. We call them ours but they really belong to God and if we use them in ways contrary to the intention of the owner we are guilty of a form of theft.
So the Church is Christ, crucified between two thieves. But consider also that these two thieves were very different.
- One thief derides Jesus and makes demands of him: – Are you not the Christ! Save yourself and us!
- The other thief reverences Christ and rebukes the other saying, – Have you no fear of God? He recognizes his guilt – We have been condemned justly. And he requests – Jesus remember me when you come into your kingdom. But he leaves the terms of it up to Christ. He acknowledges he is a thief and now places his life under the authority of Christ the King.
Christ came to call sinners, thieves, if you will. Yes, we are all thieves, that is true. But pray God we are the good thief, the repentant thief, The one thief who is now ready to resubmit himself to the authority of Christ, who is King of all creation, and King of us thieves.
But is Christ really your king? Well a King has authority. So another way of asking is, “Does Christ have authority in your life? Do you and I acknowledge that everything we call our own really belongs to Him? How well do we use the things that we call our own but which really belong to God?”
- How do we use our time?
- Are we committed to pray and be at Mass every Sunday without fail?
- Do we use enough of our time to serve God and others or merely for selfish pursuits?
- What of our capacity to talk?
- Do we use our gift of speech to witness, to evangelize, or merely for small talk and gossip?
- What of our money?
- Are we faithful to the Lord’s command to tithe? (Mal 3:7-12; Matt 23:23).
- Are we generous enough to the poor and needy?
- Do we spend wisely or foolishly?
- Do we pay our debts in a timely way?
- What of our bodies?
- Do we exhibit proper care and nutrition of them?
- Are we chaste?
- Do we observe proper safety or are we reckless and unsafe?
- Do we reverence life?
- Do we love the poor and help sustain their lives?
Well you get the point. It is one thing to call Christ our King, it is another to truly be under his authority. The Lord is clear enough in telling us that he expects our obedience: Why do you call me Lord Lord and not do what I tell you? (Luke 6:46)
Is Christ your King? Which thief are you?