The king sneered at, jeered, called out, and reviled. That’s the list of strong verbs for the rulers, the soldiers, and the criminals crucified with him. In Luke’s structure they represent the four confrontations in the passion narrative: in the courtyard, before Pilate, before Herod, and before the leaders of the people. Each of these groups has a vision of kingship that falls short of the vision of the reign of God or at the least has disastrous consequences for justice, peace, and human dignity. Again, it’s the royal versus the prophetic consciousness.

The irony is that the accusation hung above Jesus on the cross is meant to mock him from the Roman perspective, yet it actually mocks their own limited sense of kingship.

The other recurring refrain in the gospel is their notion of salvation. The rulers taunt him with this, the soldiers, and the criminals. But they have little or no idea of what an authentic salvation would look like, because they are only thinking of salvation as escape from their present predicament. We, too, often do likewise.

Salvation is not a “from something” but rather “for something.” That is to say, for the reign of God. This is the salvation of discipleship. One is not just saved from blindness or lameness, but one is for the accompaniment with Christ and with no other. He is acknowledged as king, Lord of our lives for the purpose of turning from the works of slavery (sin) towards the works of the reign of God (charity), the corporal works of mercy.

Alan Hartway

Theological Studies at Catholic Theological Union, Chicago IL; Master of Fine Arts, Poetics, at Naropa University, Boulder CO 1996; Master of Arts, Greek Classics, University of Colorado, Boulder CO 2012; Taught at Naropa University from 1999 through 2015; Chair of Interdisciplinary Studies from 2007-2015; Member of the Missionaries of the Precious Blood, Kansas City Province since 1974; Pastor at Guardian Angel Catholic Church, Mead, CO, ministry from 2007-2020 Currently Retired

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