THE SECOND UTTERANCE OF JESUS from the cross was addressed to one of the two thieves crucified with Him. One of them had begun reproaching Him with the taunt of the priests and people, saying bitterly, “If Thou art the Christ, save Thyself and us!”
But his companion, shocked by these words of hate as they were about to die, rebuked him and said, “Dost not even thou fear God, seeing that thou art under the same sentence? And we indeed justly, for we are receiving what our deeds deserved; but this man has done nothing wrong.”
Slowly and painfully, he turned his head toward Jesus and said, “Lord, remember me when Thou earnest into Thy kingdom.”
In his last hour, when he had lost faith in the mercy of men and in all earthly power, this man whom tradition calls Dismas, “the good thief,” was given the grace to believe in the heavenly power of this gentle victim who was suffering beside him. He asked merely for remembrance, not for a share in the kingdom; but Jesus said to him:
“Amen I say to thee, this day thou shalt be with Me in paradise.”
Standing near the cross were Mary, the mother of Jesus, her sister, Mary of Cleophas, Salome, and Mary Magdalene, and with them was the apostle John, the son of Zebedee. When Jesus saw His mother and John, the two creatures whom He loved the most, He said to Mary tenderly:
“Woman, behold thy son.”
And entrusting Mary to the care of John, He said:
“Behold thy mother.”
Thereafter they lived together as mother and son. Toward the end He cried aloud:
“Eli, Eli, lema sabacthani?”
These Aramaic words, meaning, “My God, my God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?” were the opening words of a psalm prophetic of His suffering. But those standing about did not understand Him and said, “Behold, He is calling Elias.”
Meditation: Indignation is our customary reaction to suffering or inconvenience. “What did I do to deserve this cross?” is a question often heard on the lips of suffering Christians. From the “good thief” we can learn that even in our suffering the most pleasing petition we can make to God is not for relief for ourselves, but that God remember us, that He do whatever is for our best interests. At times even continued suffering may be God’s blessing upon us.
Information from The Life of Christ “Our Lord’s Life with Lesson in His Own Words for Our Life Today” The Catholic Press, Inc. 1959. 281-282. © 1954 edited by Reverend John P. O’Connell, MASTD and Jex Martin, following mainly A Chronological Harmony of the Gospels by Stephen J Hartdegen OFM NIHIL OBSTAT John A McMahon; IMPRIMATUR Samuel Cardinal Stritch, Archbishop of Chicago August 1, 1953. Print. Drawing by Albert H Winkler.