November 24, 2019 At Saint Peter and Saint William Parishes in Naples, FL
2 Samuel 5, 1-3 + Psalm 122 + Colossians 1, 12-20 + Luke 23, 35-43
On this last Sunday of the Church’s year we stand with this Gospel on the edge of Paradise. We can look through the doorway to heaven because in his promise to that “good thief” Jesus opens the door to real freedom inviting us to embrace Paradise today. His work is complete with his last breath and his final words. He looks at all of us who realize our need, and he says: “Today you will be with me.”
This was his mission. This is why the Father sent him, not so much to suffer and die an agonizing death, but to identity with us, to be incarnate in our flesh, and to remain with us until the very end. On our part it takes only one thing, the desire and the courage to express our need, our need to be remembered.
The Kingdom of God which Jesus announced and now reveals is the victory of the poor, the lost, the forgotten, the marginalized, and even thieves who know their need for mercy. What looks like a defeat and death is really the triumph of forgiveness, generosity, justice, and peace. In this final moment and with these last words, we can realize that the Kingdom of God has truly come.
This is a Kingdom that has no borders or barriers and no distinction between classes, races, skin color, or gender. This is a Kingdom in which the mighty kneel before the weak and the frail to wash their feet. This is Kingdom in which authority is found in compassion not in power. This is a Kingdom that finds justice in forgiveness, not revenge. This is a Kingdom that finds us all included in spite of everything we have done and failed to only because in humility we ask to be remembered.
Salvation is always a gift from God. God gives it most freely to those who, like the good thief know they are poor, and who ask for it with empty hands and hearts filled with hope. That hope is what we must take with us from this church today. The hope that with our last breath we may say: “Remember me”, and just before we sleep we shall hear one last and final word: “Today.”