11. Jesus Promises Paradise to the Penitent Criminal. I was visiting Jerusalem for the Passover. I stood with the crowd the day Jesus of Nazareth was put to death. His enemies mocked him relentlessly as he hung on the cross. They had forgotten how he spoke to them of God’s mercy, how he healed the sick, how he fed the hungry, how he showed kindness to the poor and the weak. He had no defenders that day, just a few women and old men, fearful for their lives. We all had a choice that day–to condemn him or to defend him. But his enemies won the shouting match. He needed more than human voices to defend him. Yet even God was silent that day, the God he claimed as his only defense.

We pray. The thief who died beside you, Lord, did not know you before that day. Yet in a short time, he professed faith in you, confessed his sins, and entered eternal life. I have known you much longer. I have encountered you many times in your Word and your Sacrament. Yet I cannot claim to know you better than the thief you met on Calvary. Increase my faith.

Rolo B Castillo © 2014