Friday, May 15, 2009


2. The Second Word

And one of those robbers who were hanged blasphemed him, saying: "If thou be Christ, save thyself and us." But the other answering, rebuked him, saying: "Neither dost thou fear God, seeing; thou art under the same condemnation? And we indeed justly: for we receive the due reward of our deeds. But this man hath done no evil." And he said to Jesus: "Lord, remember me when thou shalt come into thy kingdom." And Jesus said to him: "Amen I say to thee: This day thou shalt be with me in paradise." (Luke 23:39-43)

THE CONVERSION OF THE PENITENT THIEF was a miracle of grace won by the merits of Jesus Christ. When this great criminal saw the patience and gentleness with which Jesus suffered, and how He repaid injuries with love, and when he heard Him address God as His Father, he opened his heart to grace and believed that Jesus was the Messiah and the Son of God. With this faith there was awakened in him hope and confidence in the power of the Redeemer to pardon him, and he prayed Him to have mercy on him. He had committed very great crimes in his past life, and had done no penance for them; but now, though he was on the point of dying, he hoped to receive pardon and eternal life from Jesus. Love for Jesus also entered his heart, and impelled him to do what he could to protect Him from the insults of the other thief, whom he upbraided for his blasphemies. From a robber and murderer he suddenly became zealous for God's glory and the welfare of his companions soul. From his love for Jesus proceeded a deep contrition, which he made known by a sincere confession of his great guilt, whereby he had deserved the punishment of death. He accepted his punishment and suffering willingly and resignedly, in satisfaction for his sins. He did not ask to be delivered from his temporal punishment, but acknowledged that his sufferings were no more than his due. His conversion therefore was very real and perfect, and our Lord remitted all his sins, and promised him the immediate possession of paradise. The fervor of his penance shortened its duration.

  [From 'A Practical Commentary on Holy Scripture' by Bishop Knecht, D.D.]
(1899 Douay-Rheims Bible)