Excerpt from “Awakenings” (Father Thomas Keating, O.C.S.O.)
“The crucifixion of Jesus is the ultimate reversal of values. Jesus in the parables puts a tremor under the values of the people of his time. He continues to do the same for us as we hear the gospel today. He creates earthquakes under our self satisfied and prepackaged value systems.
Here we see Jesus dying on the cross, crucified, rejected, obliterated, his life’s work reduced to zero. In what does this reversal of values consist? It consists in divine love manifesting itself in the promise of Christ to the good thief. As soon as he opened to divine love, the thief ceased to be a thief. Jesus instantly acknowledged him as a member of the kingdom: “Today you will be with me in paradise.”
The Pharisees and the Roman authorities were unrepentant. The good thief, by acknowledging his crime, ascended to heaven. This is the ultimate reversal of values. It is the confrontation of divine love and human pride.
John’s Gospel perceives Jesus reigning from the cross. Divine love is triumphing over the apparent victory of worldliness, violence, and sin. Anyone who accepts that vision is reigning with Christ in the kingdom right now. To paraphrase Jesus’ words to the good thief, “You are in paradise right now even amidst your sufferings.” Thus, as soon as we open ourselves to divine love, our sins are forgiven and forgotten. We are instantly placed, like the good thief, in the reign of divine love. Thus, as the value systems of this world are reversed and selfishness is crucified in the body of Christ, divine love is poured out over the human family and made available to everyone who consents.
The reign of Christ the King is not a reign of power but of compassion. He invites us to participate.”