Keeping our Eyes on the Face of our Crucified King

Jesus, our Crucified King — to Him be glory and power forever and ever!

When Jesus is questioned by Pilate as to whether or not he is a king, Jesus answered him, “My kingdom does not belong to this world. If my kingdom did belong to this world, my attendants would be fighting to keep me from being handed over to the Jews. But as it is, my kingdom is not here.

So Pilate said to him, “Then you are a king?” Jesus answered, “you say I am a king. For this I was born and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice.”

(John 18:33B-37)

There is but one time in all four Gospels when Our Lord is addressed by His Holy Name, “Jesus.” It is surprising, but true. He was called “Rabbi,” or “Master” by his disciples. He was mockingly called “the King of the Jews” by Pilate and the soldiers at His Crucifixion, and even, with contempt, “Messiah” by the bad thief. As Jesus was dying a shameful death on the Cross, crucified between two criminals, the crowds were shouting, “If he is the King of Israel; let him come down from the cross, and we will believe him.” One of the thieves hanging with Him reviled, and mocked Jesus to His Holy Face. “Are you not the Messiah? Save yourself and us!”

But the one called “the Good Thief” or “St. Dismas,” is also known as a saint of the Holy Face, because although he too was suffering on a cross, St. Dismas acknowledged his own guilt and publicly defended Jesus, rebuking the thief who had blasphemed Him, saying, “Have you no fear of God, for you are subject to the same condemnation? And indeed, we have been condemned justly, for the sentence we received corresponds to our crimes, but this man has done nothing criminal.” (Lk, 23:40-41)  What came next is a testament to heroic faith, because although the thief saw the suffering, humiliated, and disfigured Face of Jesus, he addressed Him, (the first time in the Gospels) by His Holy Name — Jesus — and he acknowledged Him as  King: “Jesus, remember me when You come into Your Kingdom.” 

St. Dismas, calls Jesus, “Jeshu” recalling the successor of Moses — Joshua — who led the people of Israel into the Promised Land. St. Ambrose wrote that the Good Thief “prayed that the Lord would remember him when he reached His Kingdom, but the Lord responded, ‘Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in paradise.’ Life is being with Christ, because where Christ is, there is His Kingdom.” 

Though Dismas was on a cross himself, he kept his eyes on the Face of Jesus — and his suffering was then transformed into a supreme moment of grace and mercy for the Good Thief. By turning to the Holy Face, pronouncing the Holy Name of Jesus, and accepting His kingship,  St. Dismas bears witness to the saving power of faith and devotion to the Face of  Christ. The Good Thief had stolen the Kingdom through sharing in the suffering of Christ and reparation to the Holy Face of Jesus, and so entered into the divine glory, welcomed by his Crucified King. 

“Almighty ever-living God, whose will is to restore all things in your beloved Son, the King of the universe, grant, we pray, that the whole creation, set free from slavery, may render your majesty service and ceaselessly proclaim your praise. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God, for ever and ever.”

— Prayer for Feast of Solemnity of Jesus Christ, King of the Universe.

O God, be gracious and bless us, and let your Face shed its light upon us. So will your ways be known upon earth, and all nations learn your saving help. (Psalm 67)

Novena to Christ the King

Almighty and merciful God, you break the power of evil and make all things new in your Son Jesus Christ, the King of the universe. May all in heaven and earth acclaim your glory and never cease to praise you.

We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen.

Recite One Our Father, One Hail Mary, and One Glory Be per day followed by the Novena Prayer:

O Lord our God, You alone are the Most Holy King and Ruler of all nations.
We pray to You, Lord, in the great expectation of receiving from You, O Divine King, mercy, peace, justice and all good things.
Protect, O Lord our King, our families and the land of our birth.
Guard us we pray Most Faithful One.
Protect us from our enemies and from Your Just Judgment
Forgive us, O Sovereign King, our sins against you.
Jesus, You are a King of Mercy.
We have deserved Your Just Judgment
Have mercy on us, Lord, and forgive us.
We trust in Your Great Mercy.
O most awe-inspiring King, we bow before You and pray;
May Your Reign, Your Kingdom, be recognized on earth.

Amen.