We adore You, O Christ, and bless You… because by Your holy Cross You have redeemed the world.
Now one of the criminals hanging there reviled Jesus, saying, “Are you not the Messiah? 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.”Luke 23: 39-43
I imagine we can all remember times in our lives when we could relate to each of the two criminals in this passage.
On the one hand, in times of intense frustration or grief, there can be a real temptation to engage in a type of anger toward Jesus. The feeling of, “how could You let this happen to me, Jesus?” can creep in, and even seem like a viable excuse for our own behavior.
On the other hand, the second criminal serves not only as an example for us of unwavering perseverance, but his words of rebuke to the other criminal can sometimes serve as a wake-up call. I hear him saying to me: “where is your humility before God? Don’t you know that it is His divine plan, and not your earthly schemes, that truly matter?” That is a message I often need to hear.
Maybe the message to you is different. But no matter, we can all use a reminder to find our humility before God, on occasion. Great rewards await us when we approach God consistently, and with a humble heart. The second criminal’s leap of faith earns him a spot in Paradise, even despite his past that led to his condemnation. If we, too, can put aside our anger or hubris and approach God with humility, there is no limit to God’s Mercy and Grace available to all of us.
Lord, grant us perseverance that we may never stop seeking you. Our Father... Hail Mary... Glory Be to the Father... Lord Jesus Christ, your passion and death is the sacrifice that unites heaven and earth, and reconciles all people to you. May we who have faithfully reflected on the mysteries of Your passion follow in your steps and so come to share your glory in heaven where you live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit, God, for ever and ever. Amen. Lord Jesus Christ... crucified... have mercy on us. In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
By Chris Freeman