If you are looking for my blog titled, The Contemplative Catholic Convert, you are at the right spot.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Lenten Series: The Second Word of Jesus

The last seven words (statements, actually) of Jesus as He hung on Golgotha's cross are among the most encouraging of all Scripture. Here is the second of the seven:  (I expand on this in my YouTube here:  What did the good thief do to merit Paradise? He repented. Repentance does amazing things in and for our soul. It lifts us to where Jesus hangs on the cross, face to face with His nailed and bloodied body – brutalized because of our sins.  We look at this in my YouTube about the second word of Jesus on the cross. You can find it here: http://youtu.be/GKQmfEngQJo What did the good thief do to merit Paradise? He repented. Repentance does amazing things in and for our soul. It lifts us to where Jesus hangs on the cross, face to face with His nailed and bloodied body – brutalized because of our sins.  We look at this in my YouTube about the second word of Jesus on the cross. You can find it here: http://youtu.be/GKQmfEngQJohttp://youtu.be/GKQmfEngQJo

Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.
(Luke 23:43)

Two men, hanging between heaven and earth, nailed to crosses on either side of the One in the middle. Two men, thieves, struggling against death, knowing it was only a matter of time before death finally sunk its talons into their souls.
And they watched the Stranger in the middle.

One thief knew he deserved to die. He’d broken the law, and now was paying the penalty. The other, even in the midst of dying, joined the mob at the foot of the cross in mocking, cursing, and blaspheming the Stranger in the middle.

But the broken thief would have none of it. What are you doing? he rebuked. “Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? And we indeed have been condemned justly, for we are getting what we deserve for our deeds, but this man has done nothing wrong.” And then he did what everyone must do at some time in their life. No. Rather he did what everyone must do repeatedly in their life. He turned to the One in the middle and pleaded, Jesus, remember me when you come into Your kingdom.” (Luke 23:40-42)

Repentance does amazing things in and for our soul. It lifts us to where Jesus hangs on the cross, face to face with His nailed and bloodied body – brutalized because of our sins. As the Hebrew prophet Isaiah foretold centuries earlier, He was wounded for our transgressions, crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the punishment that made us whole, and by his bruises we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have all turned to our own way, and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all. (Isaiah 53:5-6).

Repentance frees us from ourselves, from our arrogance that binds us to eternal death. It teaches us humility and unveils for us our fleeting mortality and our desperate need for an eternal savior. Repentance brings us into an intimate relationship with the King of Glory reserved only for the penitent.

“Jesus, remember me when you come into Your kingdom.” The penitent thief spoke less than a dozen words. Short prayers from the heart are as efficacious as long soliloquies.

Jesus, remember me.

Oh, how the King loves to hear our plea born in a penitent heart so He, in return, can promise, as He promised the dying thief, Truly I say to you . . . you shall be with Me in Paradise.

Thanks be to God for His matchless and enduring grace.

2 comments:

Barb Schoeneberger said...

This statement of the thief is striking because he professes faith in Christ in extremis. I don't think he suddenly had a Eureka! moment. I surmise that this man, like many of us, had heard or seen Jesus during His public ministry, knew He was speaking the truth, yet lacked the motivation to reform himself. Old habits are hard to change, even when they lead to ignominious and excruciating death. But the thief had not extinguished his conscience and so was able to admit to his sins (Confession) and show us all that it is never too late to ask forgiveness.

What particularly strikes me is that this guy actually believed that Jesus had a kingdom not of this world to go to and so was able to ask to be included. He knew Jesus was innocent of any crime. He actually was farther advanced in understanding the Scriptures than the Apostles who ran off, dismayed that Jesus wasn't going to establish an earthly kingdom. Although this thief could have been a great disciple of Jesus during His earthly ministry, at least he became one of the greatest by his confession on the cross. That God gave him the grace to say what he did is profoundly moving to me.

Rich Maffeo said...

Wow, Barb. I had never thought of what you said in your second paragraph. Very insightful and worth repeating. Thank you.