Jim was still mourning the death of his wife. It has been three year, but the experience of her death still seems like it was yesterday. Just the other day he was telling his best friend, Frank, how he felt—-how he admired the great faith of his wife; how she never once complained during her suffering, even when she could do for herself no longer. All of this has become an inspiration to him now that she’s gone. And his remembrance of it is still helping him as he struggles with trying to move forward knowing that things will never be the same. But admiring his wife’s great faith and perseverance has helped Jim become a more faith filled person. Although he’s still struggling, Jim is a stronger person because of the example of his good wife.
Today, we celebrate Christ the King. So why is the gospel reading about Christ on the cross? It’s because while on the cross Christ was most powerfully the “king”. It’s how his Heavenly Father intended it to be! And it was through this that he was able to save all of us. It is actually supposed to be that way for all of us too! Stripped of everything, and totally dependent on God.
Which brings me back to the story and the reason I shared it with you. There are times when we can see a hospital bed and the person in it and we can say that they too are on the cross. The person dying has been stripped of everything, yet the person of faith is confident that what they are experiencing is not the “end” for them. The promises of Jesus will be fulfilled!
Although we often pray that our loved ones are cured of their illness, many times the healing comes on another level. They are “healed” through their faith and through their ability to embrace their suffering, knowing that it will lead to union with Christ.
I once had the privilege of offering the Sacrament of the Sick to a woman who was so at peace with dying that the look of calm on her ace was something I will never forget. Her faith was so real to her, and her confidence so assured that she inspired those around her. I pray for just a fraction of the kind of faith! She was on the cross at that moment, and she was ministering to me without even realizing it—-just as Jesus was when he was on the cross.
One of the criminals next to Jesus says, “save yourself”. The crowds and the Pharisees say the same thing. But even Jesus cant do that. He places himself in his Father’s hands and he is saved. We must do the same. And Christ and his Blessed Mother will lead us to the Father, if we let them.