To the editor:
The gospel read on Christ the King Sunday (20 November) was the well-known account of the "good thief" from St. Luke. We Catholics acknowledge this narrative to be true as part of the Holy Scriptures. The Church’s selection of this reading just prior to the Advent season was very appropriate, as it offers a glimpse of salvation on earth. Its essence is the acceptance of Jesus as Lord and Savior by the criminal, a simple but profound, personal admission. Chances are he was probably not active in worship, nor studied the Torah or volunteered in his community; perhaps not kind to his neighbor. Yet, by faith he believed that the key to his salvation was to acknowledge Jesus’ Lordship over him.
Possibly, if the criminal had come down from his cross and recovered he would have joined the Christians in his hometown, signed up to help the poor, and acted respectfully toward others, for as St. James indicates, "faith without works is dead." But that did not happen. As I see it though, this Gospel’s message helps us to focus on what is primary. The world may understand and even acknowledge the Reason for the season ahead; perhaps offering us all kinds of activities to help get into the spirit. Yet, like He did on the cross, Jesus still waits for us to acknowledge Him as Lord of our lives, even though we may feel all the "to-do" boxes on our faith list are checked. For on the cross, Jesus considered this so important that on his way to heaven, he took a confessed criminal, who was not good, with Him.