The Good Thief

We call him St. Dismas, the Good Thief. The one on the cross just to the right of Christ’s cross. Its necessary to put the various Gospel accounts together in order to get the full picture, to truly understand what went on that day. Jesus had been crucified with two others. Two thieves, one to His right and another to His left. Many of the people who were there that day, watching Jesus die, thought He was a pretender, a false messiah. For them He deserved to die. Others, what ever they might have thought about His position as the promised one, were glad enough to see Him there because they were jealous of His popularity and where it might lead. They perceived Him as a threat. For them it was expedient that He die. Others were no doubt caught up in the moment. We are, after all, as a race much like sheep. Being pack animals after a fashion the two thieves being crucified with our Lord joined in. They joined in the cruel mockery and vindictive verbal assault. For them He took the brunt of the abuse. But something different began to take place with the one on the right, the one we call Dismas. Even as he jeered and taunted with the rest he saw the injustice, the cruelty against One Who was innocent. And he saw himself. Guilty of his crimes and deserving the punishment he was receiving. And he co-operated with this honest grace, with God’s call to change, to repentance that was being offered freely at that moment to all. Had He not said, “Father, forgive them, they don’t know what they’re doing,”? Dismas had never seen, never heard such a One as this. And his heart changed. A moment ago His taunter. “If you’re the messiah save yourself and us!” Now His defender. To the other thief: “Don’t you fear God? After all, we deserve our punishment but this man is innocent, he has done nothing.” You see, Jesus was calling them all. Calling them through their pain, the pain they unknowingly projected onto Him. But they, like certain others later on that would hear the Apostle Paul preach and feel the heart-strings tugged, were putting their fingers in their ears. But not Dismas. He heard, and he listened honestly. Steeped in sin and, no doubt, ignorance he looked at Jesus and with faith said, “Lord, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” We all know Christ’s reply. “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.” Hmmm. I love St. Dismas. A good thief at heart, the Church’s first canonized saint, canonized by God Himself, he stole heaven.

As an addendum there is a story that when Joseph fled from Herod and took the Divine Child and Mother of God into Egypt for safeties sake they traveled through some dangerous territory. Many bandits, marauders, thieves. One thief, watching them as they traveled, intended to rob them. But watching the couple and small child his heart melted and, without their ever knowing he was hiding behind the rocks, he let them pass unharmed. As the story goes he was caught and crucified thirty plus years later just to the right of One that many thought a pretender to the Messianic throne.

I share the above for very simple reasons. I love St. Dismas. He is family.

Published in: on October 16, 2012 at 2:48 pm  Comments Off on The Good Thief  
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