Thursday, 21 April 2011

Station XI: Jesus Promises the Kingdom to the Penitent Thief

At this point in the Stations we see the frail broken remnant of Jesus breaking free from his human emotions and making the transition to he who shall rise from the dead. We know already that Jesus's cries of desolation lie ahead, but this is the first of the moments when we see God more fully in the shattered human. 

Again, we also see ourselves in this two criminals. How often have we fired one of the old 'arrow prayers' at the sky in a bid for 'let X not happen and I promise you Y'. I, for one am guilty of that - and I imagine that you are too. However, let us not overlook this confession of faith - albeit on wrapped in selfish ambition.

The first thief wants out; he knows he will die in agony. The 'good' thief seems to be at peace with the verdict cast upon him, but what is clear that, at this moment of hopelessness for them all, they recognise Jesus as the Christ. In the whole ordeal, it is not an Apostle, not Peter who makes this claim of Jesus, it is a common criminal.  

It is important not to overlook the remarkable compassion from Jesus. We cannot imagine how wretched, weak, debilitated, defiled or abandoned Jesus will have felt as he hung helplessly, yet he has strength to reassure another dying man that better awaits him. If that criminal, that executed criminal, can be assured, by God the Son of a place in Paradise, then this moment is as potent for us in our own day. 

Truly, I tell you, today you will be with me in Paradise [Lk 23: 43]

My prayer at this Station is for those who are bound up in criminal lives for whatever reason; for their rehabilitation and eventual return to a place of equality among us. I pray too for their victims. 

Lord Jesus, even in your deepest agony you listened to the crucified thief:hear us as we unburden to you our deepest fears.You spoke words of love in your hour of death:help us to speak words of life to a dying world.To you, Jesus, who offer hope to the hopeless,be honour and glory with the Father and the Holy Spirit,now and for ever. Amen

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