From the Word of the Day
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)
Palm Sunday introduces us to Holy Week, the greatest week of the Liturgical Year. Today’s Liturgy has two parts: the first part symbolizes the olive branches or palms that the faithful carry in procession in an atmosphere of joy and festivity. The second is the Holy Mass dominated by the reading of the Lord’s Passion, in an aura of sadness and deep emotion that is intense and dramatic.
Today, we will look at the episode of the ‘good thief’ who seems to have stolen Heaven at the last moment. He is the one who defends Jesus’ innocence while the other thief joined in the deprecations of the leaders and soldiers. The good thief cries out, “Remember me when you come into your kingdom!” Jesus immediately responds, “Amen, I say to you; today you will be with me in Paradise!” It is a solemn assurance of salvation because from that day, salvation had arrived.
The salvation of the good thief is the first fruit of the Good News of the Gospel of mercy that consists of communion with Jesus in His Kingdom. Jesus came to seek that which was lost; to call sinners to conversion. He ate with sinners and Publicans; He entered the home of Zacchaeus and He chose Levi as one of His apostles. Now He dies between two sinners, sharing their destiny and their infamy. It is with this extreme gesture of solidarity that Jesus gives salvation to those who believe and are converted. There is no human situation of misery and of sin that can be excluded from salvation, even for the criminal who dies because of his crimes. Everyone has the hope of being saved.
In my pause for silent contemplation, I shall remain beneath the Cross of Jesus and thank Him for the salvation He brought and brings.
Jesus, remember me. Grant that I may hear at the last moment of my life Your consoling words, “Amen, I say to You. Today you will be with me in my Kingdom”.
The Voice of St. Theresa of the Child Jesus
It must happen that Dismas (legendary name of the good thief) be washed in the blood of the Redeemer. Jesus will die to give life to Dismas and he will enter into the Heavenly Kingdom on the same day as the Son of God.