First reading: 2 Sm. 5:1–3
In those days, all the tribes of Israel came to David in Hebron and said: “Here we are, your bone and your flesh. In days past, when Saul was our king, it was you who led the Israelites out and brought them back. And the LORD said to you, ‘You shall shepherd my people Israel and shall be commander of Israel.’” When all the elders of Israel came to David in Hebron, King David made an agreement with them there before the LORD, and they anointed him king of Israel.
Second reading: Col. 1:12–20
Brothers and sisters: Let us give thanks to the Father, who has made you fit to share in the inheritance of the holy ones in light. He delivered us from the power of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.
He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For in him were created all things in heaven and on earth, the visible and the invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers; all things were created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. He is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things he himself might be preeminent. For in him all the fullness was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile all things for him, making peace by the blood of his cross through him, whether those on earth or those in heaven.
Gospel: Lk. 23:35–43
The rulers sneered at Jesus and said, “He saved others, let him save himself if he is the chosen one, the Christ of God.” Even the soldiers jeered at him. As they approached to offer him wine they called out, “If you are King of the Jews, save yourself.” Above him there was an inscription that read, “This is the King of the Jews.”
Now one of the criminals hanging there reviled Jesus, saying, “Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us.” The other, however, rebuking him, said in reply, “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.” Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” He replied to him, “Amen, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.”
In other words
Fr. Narciso A. Cellan Jr., SVD (University of San Carlos, Cebu City)
Two long-lost friends got reconnected through a social media platform. They chatted online for some weeks before agreeing to meet in their favorite restaurant. The appointed day came, and one of the two arrived in the restaurant that was no more, forgetting that it was closed down a year ago. The other arrived in another restaurant, misremembering its name. Eventually, they agreed to meet in another place.
It is important to remember, for memory is part of who we are. Our song choices, admired movies, favorite food, places, and faces make us cherish an aspect of our past that helps us remember and hold on to memories. Yet, as we endeavor to remember people and events, we also need to be remembered. Cursed be the day when we are forgotten, when friends and loved ones no longer think of us.
Today’s Gospel reading 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. The second thief is repentant and asks the Lord to remember him. He is scared not of dying but of being forgotten.
Today’s solemnity of Christ the King reminds us of two important things: (1) Christ is the eternal King of the universe; (2) His kingdom is also personal; he cares for us and remembers everything about us.
Prophet Isaiah heard Yahweh telling his people, “I will never forget you” (49:15). David cries to God when he thinks that God is no longer thinking of him (Ps. 13:2–3). Jesus, experiencing the horrible feeling of being abandoned, addresses the Father in the most haunting of words, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Mt. 27:46). Indeed, misery dwells in a person who thinks he/she has been forgotten, especially by God.
To remember is to forge a connection, nourish a relationship, or deepen a communion. In Africa, for example, naming a baby after a parent or a relative is a way of showing respect and ensuring that the memory of an elderly or deceased person lives on in the life of the new member of the community. Hence, Africans imagine hell, not as a fiery furnace or a burning place, but an experience of isolation—a state of not being remembered, thought about, or being forsaken by the family, clan, or tribe.
Thus, to re-member is to continue being a member and part of a social, organizational, or spiritual bond. This is what we hope to achieve in commemorating the solemnity of the Lord’s kingship. We remember the forgotten—the last, the lost, and the least because they are the ones closest to the King and remember God most.