Scripture Reading: Luke 23:42-43
At this distressing hour on the cross, when Jesus needed the encouragement and support of His friends and loved ones who had benefitted from His miracles and benevolence, only a thief dare to speak in public in defense of the innocence of Jesus. Where was the son of the widow of Nain, who Jesus had previously raised from death? Where was the blind man of Jericho, who Jesus had miraculously granted sight? Fulton Sheen put it thus, “No voice was lifted in praise and recognition except the voice of a man, condemned. It was a cry of faith in Him whom everyone else had forsaken, and it was a testimony of a thief.” Here was a man who had lived a life of sin for years. His practice of religion was negligible. His belief in God, up to the time of Good Friday, was little. For years, he was accused of robbing and engaging in sinful and criminal practices. But within the space of a few hours this notorious criminal was given the gift of faith that was to change the whole course of his life. At that moment, the dying thief had clearer faith in Christ’s coming in His kingdom than any of the disciples had. Before he met Christ, he was a derelict and outcast of society. When he met Christ, he became a convert and a saint. How can this quality of faith exist at such a dark moment? Already the darkness is falling over the whole land, and yet a dying thief believes. As Jesus dies for our sins, He does not die completely alone. The Father gives Him a companion, a believer with mighty faith, a believer who can look past the raw wood and nails and blood to the heavenly kingdom that Jesus will inherit. “Yes, you’ll be with Me there — today in paradise. We’ll go together, you and Me.”
During his homily at the Chrism Mass at the Vatican Holy Thursday morning this year, Pope Francis reminded the clergy of his diocese: “God does not only forgive incalculable debts, as He does to that servant who begs for mercy but is then miserly to his own debtor; He also enables us to move directly from the most shameful disgrace to the highest dignity without any intermediary stages”. The Lord allowed the forgiven woman to wash His feet with her tears. As soon as Simon confessed his sin and begged Jesus to send him away, the Lord raised him to be a fisher of men. We, however, tend to separate these two attitudes: when we are ashamed of our sins, we hide ourselves and walk around with our heads down, like Adam and Eve; and when we are raised up to some dignity, we try to cover up our sins and take pleasure in being seen, almost showing off. Beloved in Christ, the grace, forgiveness and mercy offered to a hardened criminal on Golgotha are still available to us. All we have to do is admit our own wretchedness, look at Jesus on the Cross and ask Him to remember us in our own misery, and to pardon us; it is never too late to repent as far as you are still breathing. At the Cross, Jesus graciously accepts the penitent’s petition, and assures him that the companionship which begun on the Cross, will be continued there.
Mass: Violet Is 42:1-7; Ps 27:1.2.3. 13-14; (R. 1a); Jn 12:1-11Chrism Mass Is 61:1-3a.6a.8b-9; Ps 89:21-22; 25.27; Rev 1:5-8; Lk 4:16-21
- Begin your prayer with this song, “When You come to collect Your people, Remember me O Lord!…”
- We adore You, O Christ, and we bless You, because by Your holy Cross you have redeemed the world.
- “Father, You never leave Yourself without a witness. Even Jesus’ close disciples faltered in their faith. But then you raised up a thief who had great faith and received a great promise. Please strengthen my faith. I am often so upset and confused by the buffeting winds of my life. Let me see beyond them, to Jesus. By Your grace, may my faith bring some joy into Your breaking heart as did the thief’s faith. In Jesus’ holy and precious name, Amen.”
Exercise: Pray the “Stations of the Cross” for the conversion of sinners.
Meditation: Luke 19:9-10