The WORD in Other Words by Fr Narciso Cellan SVD (Philippines) for the Solmenity of Christ the King
Ruth is a five year old girl blessed with a smiling face and a pair of curios eyes. Her angelic appearance, however, belies her condition. In truth, she is a wounded person, having been sexually abused by a family member. When she came to the Shelter, Ruth was quiet and withdrawn. The long conspicuous scar on her neck bears the mark of a vicious attempt at her life after having been violated. However, several months on, Ruth has, against all odds, come out of darkness. She has survived the cruelty and lives on to tell her story. When one of her friends was leaving the Shelter for good, Ruth said, almost in a whisper: “Please, don‘t forget me.”
Today‘s Gospel presents a very humbling picture of the Lord in Calvary. Sentenced and condemned to death, Jesus, an innocent victim, is crucified between two thieves. The first thief remains defiant and mocks Jesus for claiming that He is the Messiah yet unable to save His own life. The second thief is repentant, saying: “Jesus, remember me when you come into your Kingdom” (LK 23:42).
We all need to be remembered. Prophet Isaiah heard Yahweh telling His people: “I will never forget you” (49:15). Misery dwells in a person who thinks God has forsaken him/her. David cried to God when he thought that God was no longer thinking of him (Ps 13:2—3). Jesus, experiencing the horrible feeling of being abandoned, addressed the Father in a most haunting of words: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? (Mt 27:46)
To remember is to forge relationships. When it is done with compassion, it can last forever. When Jesus bids adieu to his disciples at the Last Supper, He says: “Do this in memory of me” (Lk 22:19b). Each time we celebrate the Eucharist, we are in effect saying to Jesus: “Yes, Lord, we do remember what you did for us.”
As we celebrate today the solemnity of Christ the King, we honor Him by remembering that His Kingdom here on earth is yet to be made complete and be fully realized. There is so much brokenness around us, so much fear, violence, hatred, division, and hurts. We wish people to remember us and think of us with kindness, not with bitterness.
Regardless of who we think about ourselves, our memories shape our life. Regardless of our painful past, healing takes place when we remember to glorify the King of kings, and be always grateful to Him. When we remember that God reigns even in our darkest night, fears, hatred, and sadness will have no hold on us.