“Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.”
These words, spoken by the most fortunate man that ever lived, have become a prayer for all believers. They are often used as a hymn while we venerate the Cross on Good Friday. They were also the words that prompted Jesus to act one more time before His death in response to the jeers of the Jewish leaders. Remember they said, “He saved others, let him save himself.” Jesus being the Saviour of the World duly obliged; putting the prayer and last words of a dying man before his own personal needs.
I have been reminded of this man every day for the past month, as I have been praying a set of prayers each morning which come from St Bridget of Sweden, the fifth prayer; of a set of 15; concludes with the words
Through this abyss of compassion and pity,
and especially through the goodness which Thou displayed to the good thief when Thou saidst to him:
“This day, thou shalt be with Me in Paradise.”
I beg of Thee, O Sweet Jesus, that at the hour of my death, Thou wilt show me mercy.
I started saying this group of prayers just over a month ago, they are to be said every day for a year. The prayers represent the blows suffered by Christ at His Passion and if said every day for a year add up to the 5480 blows Christ received on our behalf. Jesus appeared to St Bridget and taught her these prayers, and there are promises made by Jesus to St Bridget for those who pray using this format. I find it a good way of starting the day and I hope I can complete the 365 day challenge and that the souls I pray for during this time will be rewarded.1
In today’s first reading from the second book of Samuel, we see the Jewish people recognise that God has called David to be their leader, they have linked all the exploits of the younger David and they publicly witness how God had a hand in their lives. The late Benedictine Fr Placid Murray connected this reading with today’s Gospel so well when he reflected on them as follows –
Then all the tribes of Israel came to David at Hebron, and said ‘Behold we are your bone and flesh…’ The Lord said to you, ‘You will be shepherd of my people Israel, and you shall be prince over Israel…’ and they anointed David king over Israel. [2Sam5:1-2]
Jesus, the Son of David was crucified under a placard which proclaimed him to be ‘King of the Jews.’ And why not? ‘They were his bone and flesh.’ Jesus entered his kingdom after he had been taken down from the cross, was buried and rose again. Ever since that day, from his place at the Father’s right hand, he has been gathering a kingdom from out of this world. He has been casting a net into the turbulent seas, he has been sewing seed in the wide plains of human history; he has hidden a pearl of great price deep in this world’s field.2
As we reach the end of yet another Liturgical year and approach the end of a Calendar year are we happy to be in Christ’s net or at times are our actions more akin to the ‘one that got away’?
When we reflect on how well Christ’s seed has been implanted in us, how fertile is our soil?
When we consider the depth of Holy Scriptures, how deeply do we delve in, in search of that great pearl, which brings wisdom and knowledge of the heart of Jesus?
If like me, when I consider these questions, you realise that you could do better, then new years bring times when we can resolve to do better. Changes of seasons can bring changes in us if we want to change. The question we need to follow up with is what in my life do I need to give up or change to get closer to Jesus?
In St Paul’s letter to the Colossians we see all of the evidence of why we would want to be closer to Jesus –
The image of the unseen God…first born of all creation….all things were created through him and for him…before anything was created, he existed… now the Church is his body, he is its head…God wanted all perfection to be found in him….when he made peace by his death on the cross.
This evidence is compelling, Jesus is perfect, and we are not. But that doesn’t mean we should give up and stop trying. Jesus asks us to follow him and through our faith we can become like him.
The message from today’s Gospel is that it is never too late to recognise Jesus as King; but as we do not know when our dying words will be, it is never too early for us to recognise Jesus as King either.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church
CCC 440, 446-451, 668-672, 783, 786, 908, 2105, 2628: Christ as Lord and King
CCC 678-679, 1001, 1038-1041: Christ as Judge
CCC 2816-2821: “Thy Kingdom Come”
Please keep in your prayers this week
- Peace between all Nations.
- Those who are sick, those recovering from surgery, those who are dying, the recently deceased and those who mourn.
- All those struggling to feed their families at this time.
- Those working to help others who are struggling with the cost-of-living crisis.
- Those in business who have the power to make decisions to help the poor.
- All those working in Parishes and the Diocese on the ten-year plan
- All who are persecuted because of their faith.
- The souls in Purgatory, especially those with no-one to pray for them.
- Families attending the Baptism preparation programme.
- All of our young people preparing for the Sacraments.
- Those attending our RCIA programme.
2 Placid Murray OSB, 100 Liturgical Homilies, [The Columba Press, Dublin, 1988]60.