Jesus Christ, King of the Universe, poured out his love and saving grace for us from his earthly throne, the Cross. He continues to pour out his love and saving grace for us at the Holy Mass, the altar of sacrifice, from his eternal throne in heaven.
It was at Jesus’ Last Supper, the First Mass of the new covenant in the upper room, that Jesus washed the feet of his disciples and then gave them and us the promise that he would lay down his life for us, feed us with his Body and Blood, and then send the Holy Spirit upon all those who strive to follow his Father’s Holy commandments.
Judas Iscariot left that Last Supper meal early because he did not want to surrender himself to Jesus Christ as the Lord of life, death, and salvation.
In fact, all the disciples struggled with this total commitment and abandoned Jesus when he carried his cross to Mount Calvary to suffer crucifixion to take away all our sins, and to inspire us to die to our selfishness and live for the truth of God’s majestic holiness and true love. All of the disciples struggled to maintain their faith, except Mary, the Mother of Jesus, who was at the foot of the cross with some other holy women, and also John, the youngest of the Apostles, who was around the age of 21.
They witnessed the conversion of the good thief who was crucified next to Jesus with the other criminal who reviled Jesus saying, “Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us.”
However, the other rebuked him, which is a way of admonishing the sinner, one of the spiritual acts of mercy, saying, “Have you no fear of God, for you are subject to the same condemnation? And in-deed, we have been condemned justly, for the sentence we received corresponds to our crimes, but this man has done nothing criminal.”
The thief who reviled Jesus did not have the honest courage to take responsibility for not follow-ing God’s Ten Commandments completely, even though God gives us every heartbeat and breath, and sufficient grace to do so.
The good thief, however, takes responsibility for his sins, and repents of them and seeks Christ as the King of the Universe. He demonstrates his love for Jesus Christ and to the other thief by admonish-ing that thief: reminding him to be humble and of-fer himself up to God with Jesus, the innocent lamb of sacrifice.
The good thief gives witness to the truth that Jesus Christ is King of the universe and has the power to forgive him and bring him into his Kingdom of Eternal Life, Infinite Wisdom, and Perfect Love. This truth exists for every sinner, even those who have done the most terrible of deeds. With the good thief we must repent and seek God’s holiness and say, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.”
Jesus rewards his faith, hope and love, “Amen, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.” The good thief is not baptized in the ordinary way by water and the Holy Spirit, but he is baptized through desire, that is, immersed in the Paschal Mystery – the life, suffering and death of Jesus the King of the Universe, and therefore is filled with the sanctifying grace that was lost by Adam and Eve, and by his life as a mortal sinner.
Jesus dies more quickly than these two crucified with him, and the suffering that the good thief endured was offered up to God through Christ so that he would not spend much time, if any, in purgatory. We also know Mary, the Mother of Jesus, and John, his beloved disciple, were at the foot of the cross uniting themselves to Christ.
Jesus goes into “Sheol” or hell for three days before his Resurrection, and then for forty days appears to the Virgin Mary, to the apostles and some disciples before ascending to heaven to be seated on his glorious throne as Lord and God.
Reflecting on this great mystery we learn the importance of having an honest faith, a true love of wanting to bear witness to Jesus Christ’s power to forgive, and the hope that hates sin and seeks the holiness of God.
“Jesus Christ, King of the Universe, save us and bring us to heaven. There we will see in the highest heights of heaven your Mother Mary and John the Apostle reigning with you forever and ever, because of their honest humility and intimate love of you as they followed God’s ways of holiness. And may we see our place in heaven with all those who subjected themselves to your purifying love, and who offered themselves to God through you, as did the good thief, who reigns with You, Jesus, King of our Salvation. Amen.”
Peace in Christ,
Fr. Thomas McCabe