The following is a commentary by one of the Province’s simply professed friars on the Gospel of the 34th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Lc 23, 35-43), the feast of Christ the King. Click here to read the reflection in Spanish.
This Sunday, the Church invites us to consider the final moments of Jesus. The bandit crucified with Jesus asks him: “Jesus, remember me, when you come into your kingdom.” This man, whom a pious tradition has called “Dismas,” asks Jesus to be remembered.
In biblical language, “to remember” means “to act on behalf of someone.” The bandit is asking Jesus to act on his behalf. And Jesus does remember him, restoring his honor and his life by bringing him into the paradise. Jesus guarantees that this promise will be fulfilled that very day.
At the end of the liturgical year, the Church has chosen this passage for the feast of Christ the King. Today, we come to celebrate the Eucharist to make Jesus present in our world. Today, we do what Jesus did if we also remember those around us — namely if we act on behalf of those who are next to us, especially those who are most in need. To celebrate Jesus as king means that we work to remember others, to bring and restore life, honor, dignity, justice, union, peace, reconciliation, wherever it is necessary.
“To remember,” to act on behalf of others, entails for us the demanding but necessary mission of addressing everything that suppress life around us: all that racism, misogyny, bigotry, violence, discrimination, corruption, injustice, homophobia, xenophobia, Islamophobia, (or any kind of religious phobia) we are experiencing in our society.
“To remember” means we cannot forget all the evil around us. We cannot be insensitive in front of so much pain, sorrow and suffering that evil provokes. “To remember” means prayer is not enough; as Christians, we need to act concretely and immediately. Jesus didn’t even pray for that bandit; in those drastic moments, Jesus responded actively by ensuring him the restitution of his honor and his life: “today, you will be with me…”
What are we, you and I, going to do to remember, to act on behalf of others around us, especially in these challenging moments for the United States of America? (If you were not born in the U.S., you can also think about the situations in your home country.)
May the Eucharist in which we are going to participate help us to not (comfortably) forget but “to remember,” to act on behalf of others with practical deeds of justice, compassion and love.
Peace and all good for all.
— Br. Javier is studying sacred scripture at the Catholic Theological Union in Chicago. Before joining Holy Name Province, he worked in organization and human development, coaching corporate businesses for 15 years for Fortune 500 companies in the Americas and South Korea. He also founded and directed the Center for Biblical Studies “Xaire.” Last fall, Javier wrote a reflection titled “An Itinerant Vocation.”
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- Seasonal Resources page of HNP website