Sunday, November 21, 2010

Even Christ Appreciated A kind Word

Today's reading from Luke 23 (35-43) celebrating the feast Of Christ The King is particularly moving and gives an insight into the humanity of Jesus. Here he finds himself nailed to a cross to die a not only a most tortuous death but a public humiliation. His body aching from toes to head. Almost naked. People jeering him, spitting at him and constantly degrading him. All this is happening in front of his mother. The soldiers are gambling for his cloak. He has nothing left. He is stationed between two criminals. One of them continues to revile him using jeering taunts. The two men on each side were hardened criminals, possibly murderers. Yet one of them who Tradition calls Dismas looks at Christ. Is he a secret follower? Certainly he has heard of him yet he wouldn't be hanging on a cross dying a death only reserved for those trying to revolt or have committed the most heinous crimes. Whatever he is, he certainly feels compassion and empathy so much so Dismas is moved to words quieting the other jeering criminal and is moved to ask Christ to remember him when he comes into his kingdom. Did Dismas really believe in his request or was he just trying to comfort someone he felt was wrongly being destroyed? We will never know the answer to this despite all the theological musing about the subject because all that is recorded is in Luke's detailed accounting, the other Evangelists don't have it. Jesus' response is "...today you will be with me in Paradise." Was this Jesus rewarding a deathbed conversion or did he reward a man for an act of kindness that was not shown by the multitudes that laughed, jeered and spit at Jesus? It sort of fit into what Matthew 25 (31-46) said about those who would be saved because they fed the hungry, clothed the sick and visited those in prisons because when they did that to them they did it to Jesus. Imagine an act of kindness, caring and loving is the measure used in salvation not necessarily calling Jesus Lord. Check it out that's what is recorded. So here we are some 2000 years later celebrating the feast of Christ the King while at the same time celebrating an act of kindness that moved our King to bring a hardened criminal into Paradise because he cared for another being. We shall never know if Dismas believed in Christ as the Messiah or if he was just moved by love and compassion. What we do know is Christ appreciated the words and caring and rewarded him. If we go back to Matthew 25 (31-46) and put all this into practice I am sure we too can experience the splendor of Paradise which is the Kingdom of Christ.
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