Jesus, Remember Me

(Christ the King, Year C)

In my thirty years as a priest I have heard many accounts of domestic abuse. Almost inevitably the person will conclude, “Father, worse than being struck was the humiliation.” Cruel words, especially in presence of children, often cause the greatest pain.

We see something comparable in today’s Gospel. Jesus’ death involved not only unimaginable physical pain, but also public humiliation. Stephen Portner describes crucifixion as “a process for progressively shaming and dishonoring the victim in public.” Beginning with a trial and flogging, it concluded with affixing the victim’s disfigured body to the cross. As Portner states:

Crucifixion served as a macabre sort of public entertainment. The crowds
ridiculed and mocked the victim, calling names, tempting them with a relief
of their hunger or thirst which they would not provide. Many times the
victims would be affixed to the crosses in an odd and whimsical manner,
including impalement. Execution by crucifixion was intentionally slow and
prolonged. The victims eventually lost all control of their bodily functions…

In the midst of such indignities, a different voice was raised. “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” Up to that point Jesus had not acknowledged royal status. He silenced the demons that threatened to betray the messianic secret. When the crowds wanted to draft him as king, he fled. But now, in the last moments of his life, things changed. To another man, also totally debased, he declares:

"Amen, I say to you,
today you will be with me in Paradise."

In facing our own humiliations, you and I have two choices. We can rail – even against God – or we can take those resentments to the cross. One way leads to unending bitterness, the other to life.

The second criminal acknowledged his own blame. He could have argued that, although he was hardly perfect, he had done nothing to deserve this. However he did not take that tack. Rather he said, “We have been condemned justly, for the sentence we received corresponds to our crimes.” That is a blazing insight, made possible only by grace.

When he was dying, St. Augustine asked one of his monks to write in large letters the seven penitential psalms so he could pray them from his deathbed. For sure he remembered the sins of his youth such as fathering an illegitimate child. But much more present to him were his sins as a bishop – the cowardice, sloth or imprudence which jeopardized other souls.

If you and I could see our real sins, we would say, “Jesus, remember me.”

**********

Spanish Version

From Archives (Christ the King Sunday, Year C):

2013: The Opposite of Faith
2010: The King Over All Kings
2007: Life & Death of a Thief
2004: To Sneer or Not to Sneer
2001: Jesus, Remember Me
1998: The Great Secret

Seapadre Homilies: Cycle A, Cycle B, Cycle C

Sunday Homilies

Audio Files of Homilies

Podcasts of homilies (website of my niece, Sara)

Evidence for God's Existence from Modern Physics (MP3 Audio File)

my bulletin column

Parish Picture Album

(November of 2010)

Thanksgiving Homily

Report on Earthquake Relief to Sacuaya (October 22, 2001)

Bulletin (Fr. Harrington's death; J.R.R. Tolkien)

Announcements

Darwin's Dangerous Idea (reflection on PBS' Evolution Program)

Blaming Religion for Sept. 11

Global-Warming Battle Heats Up

Bulletin (St. Mary's Parish)

my bulletin column

Parish Picture Album


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Parish Picture Album

(November of 2010)

Bulletin (Good News in Stem Cell Research; Six Myths of Atheism & Philip Pullman's Golden Compass; First Anniversary Mass for Deputy Steve Cox)

Announcements

Catholicism at a Glance

by Fr. Raymond Cleaveland

Pictures of Earthquake Relief

Are these homilies a help to you? Please consider making a donation to St. Mary of the Valley Parish.

Bulletin (St. Mary's Parish)

Parish Picture Album

(Pilgrimage to Molokai)

MBC - Mary Bloom Center, Puno, Peru

KRA's & SMART Goals (updated November 2013)

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Article about Fund Raising Event for Mary Bloom Center (Spanish)