November 20, 2022
by Eileen Wirth
Creighton University - Retired
click here for photo and information about the writer

The Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe
Lectionary: 162

2 Samuel 5:1-3
Psalm 122:1-2, 3-4, 4-5
Colossians 1:12-20
Luke 23:35-43

Praying Ordinary Time Weekly Guide for Daily Prayer

"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."


Question: What kind of king dies on a cross between two criminals even though one has gone down in history as the “good thief?”

Answer: A king who suffers and accompanies his subjects when they are in agony. A king whose example teaches his subjects to do the same for others.

A sad fact of getting older is that you know more people who suffer from diseases like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s that kill by inches. It’s hard to know how to relate to people undergoing such prolonged suffering, especially when your relationship has been based on witty conversation or activities.

When I was young, I became a surrogate daughter for a woman whose daughter was on the East Coast and communicated sporadically. We had a delightful relationship until she developed Alzheimer’s at a time when I was getting my doctorate, teaching fulltime and had two small children.

I stopped seeing her after a visit where she hardly knew me because time was so precious. Why spend it with someone who wouldn’t remember your visit five minutes later? I learned of her death a few years later from the newspaper because her family, understandably, did not inform me.  But I’ve always felt bad about abandoning her.

Today’s gospel teaches us that Jesus wants us to stay connected with suffering people no matter what their mental or physical condition. We don’t have to minister to abandoned dying people like the Missionaries of Charity, just find time for the people in our lives who are confined to their homes or nursing homes.

We can try to alleviate their loneliness for even a few minutes even if they don’t remember it for more than that.

Because of the mistake I made with my old friend, I usually find 45 minutes a week to visit the husband of one of my closest late friends. I nod when he meanders and talks about people I don’t know because I know how much he looks forward to my visits. He loves talking to someone who adored his wife and can reassure him that she loved him too.

I know my friend in heaven is smiling when I head into her house where we had such good times.

If our dying King could accompany a thief to the end, we can accompany the people we know who need us.

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