‘Today, You Will Be with Me in Paradise’

The good thief: the ultimate buzzer beater

Everyone loves a comeback.

With March Madness in full swing, the Final Four teams gear up for the games of their lives. From the time players were young boys, they dreamed of shooting that final heart-stopping shot as the buzzer sounded, and with a swish bringing their team to victory.

Within our spiritual lives, the faithful depend completely on God’s mercy. God is like the father of the prodigal son, waiting intently for his children to return to him. And if we come back, God will run out and meet us on the road, rejoicing in the reunion with his child.

God’s mercy is greater than the ability 0f the human mind to process, and even in our last moments of life he is waiting for us to repent from our sinfulness.

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One example in scripture is when Jesus forgives the good thief on the cross. This part of scripture is all the more beautiful because as Jesus dies on the cross for the sins of humanity, and the sins of the good thief, He not only forgives the man but promises him eternal life.

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“Now one of the criminals hanging there reviled Jesus, saying, “Are you not the Messiah? Save yourself and us.”
The other, however, rebuking him, said in reply, “Have you no fear of God, for you are subject to the same condemnation?
And indeed, we have been condemned justly, for the sentence we received corresponds to our crimes, but this man has done nothing criminal.”
Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.”
He replied to him, “Amen, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.”” (Luke 23: 39-42)

“Remember me when you come into your kingdom” – let all the faithful ask Jesus the same question in their final moments on this earth.

Even the simple request was enough for Jesus, even after all the thief had done wrong in his life. Another pertinent point concerning this moment is that Jesus could have just simply forgiven him, but he didn’t. Instead, he promised him eternal life, comforting another man dying on the cross next to him.

Father Michael Sliney commented on the forgiving of the good thief: “Mercy is love which goes beyond justice, and Christ showed this perfectly when he forgave the good thief on the cross.  Heaven is not for perfect people, heaven is for souls who acknowledge their own misery and humbly ask for God’s mercy again and again.  We are so blessed to have a God who looks not at appearances but at our hearts, and like a good father, simply cannot give up on or stop loving his children.”

The good thief is each one of us, and Jesus craves for our individual redemption just the same.

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