"Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews". This is the title put on the cross. Shortly before Christ's death, one of the two condemned men crucified with him said to him: "Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom". What kingdom? The object of his request was certainly not an earthly kingdom but another one.
To this Kingdom, which is not of this world, Jesus invited us to look when he taught us to pray: "Thy Kingdom come". Obedient to his command, the Apostles, the disciples and the missionaries of all times have done their best to extend, through evangelization, the boundaries of this Kingdom. For it is both the gift of the Father (cf. Lk 12:32) and the result of man's personal response. In the "new creation", we will be able to enter into the Kingdom of the Father only if we have followed the Lord during our earthly pilgrimage (cf. Mt 19:28).
In the second reading the Apostle Paul explains the nature of the kingdom of which Jesus speaks. He writes to the Colossians: we must give thanks to God who "has delivered us from the dominion of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins" (1:13-14). It is precisely this forgiveness of sins which the good thief inherited on Calvary. He was the first to experience the fact that Christ is King, because he is the Redeemer.
The Apostle then explains what Christ's kingship is: "He is the image of the invisible God, the first-born of all creation; for in him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together" (Col 1:15-17). Thus Christ is King above all as the first-born of all creation.
The Pauline text continues: "He is the head of the body, the Church; he is the beginning, the first-born from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross" (ibid., 1:18-20). With these words the Apostle again confirms and justifies what he had revealed about the essence of Christ's kingship: Christ is King as the first-born of the dead. In other words, as Redeemer of the world, the risen and crucified Christ is King of the new humanity.
It is through your sorrowful death, King of eternal glory,
that you obtained eternal life for the nations;
therefore the whole world calls you King of humanity.
Reign over us, Christ the Lord!"