The story of the crucified thieves at the cross is a hard lesson. We can be both those individuals at times, begging Christ’s forgiveness for our sins or being arrogant about who we are in light of his gracious mercy. I am paying attention to both stances, hoping to learn what I can from these creatures, especially as the final Door of Mercy closes in Rome and we celebrate the Feast of Christ the King. Does my heart cry out, Jesus, remember me when you come into your Kingdom?
When we don’t get our way, we can believe that Christ has slipped off the cross and not saved us, or as in the Gospel today, is not capable of saving himself and therefore is not the Chosen One. In the First Week of the Spiritual Exercises, the retreatant prays to the crucified Christ on the cross who is there because of this person’s sins. Painful colloquies can follow if the retreatant is honest. The humble one who is promised that on that very day he will join Christ in Paradise knows he is getting what he deserves but that Christ is not. In the colloquy on the cross, we look our King in the eyes and contemplate on the fact that he is in this position because of sins we have committed. He takes the weight of the sin of the world and nails it through his own hands and feet to the cross.
The Door of Mercy never closes in the heart of Christ the King. As I reflect back on my spring pilgrimage I remember the doors that I walked through, the humility of praying on my knees, the glory of the God-whispers, the encounters along the way, and the peace that invaded my soul. I remember with gratitude and joy. I remember only a portion but Christ remembers it all. I believe that the Ruler of my Heart will remember me when my time comes and will invite me to join the Trinity in Paradise.
Which thief are you more similar to?
What would you say looking into the eyes of the Crucified Christ?
Crucified Christ, the nails driven through your hands and feet are my doing. You graciously accept the sharp sorrow of sin as it slices open your humanly divine body. You offer yourself in love for me, for all of us, for the redemption of the world. Help me to turn away from sin as we enter a new church season and to turn towards you with trust and openness. We await, your coming, Jesus, as a vulnerable human, into our lives. Come Lord Jesus Come. Amen.