Friday, March 29, 2013

The Two Thieves on the Cross

Today, I think of the two thieves who died with Jesus. Both represent the Old Adam, one repentant, one not. Adam is sometimes spoken of in the hymns as having stolen the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. He wished to cross a threshold, moving out of primordial innocence into his own grasping of something new: personal experience with the contours of good and evil. His theft of this fruit was an invitation to evil to enter human history, as well as a rejection of human dependence upon his Creator--fellowship with God was not enough for Adam, so he took something that did not belong to him, trading communion with God for his own will.

On Golgotha, we see a reversal in two ways. First, Christ is the obedient Second Adam. By saying "Thy will be done," he rescued the willful first Adam and his descendants from the death that came from his primordial sin. 

Secondly, we see in the Good Thief an example of the proper response. He no longer takes what is not his, but simply asks the Lord to remember him. Here we see a reversal of the sinful attitude of man, who takes his own life and the things of creation--including wealth, land, power, and possessions--for granted, as if they really belonged to him as an eternal birthright. 

But the new man, the man in Christ, like the Good Thief, realizes he has nothing left, that he is spiritually impoverished and naked, with no end in sight other than the death that awaits all mortal flesh. Seeing his need, like the Prodigal Son, he turns to Christ, and asks, "Please, remember me," calling him Lord. The thief invites the Lord. And the Lord invites him back with a promise: "Today, you will be with me in Paradise." The Father welcomes Adam back home. The road is now open, and Easter marks the opening of the doors to the Feast.

"Remember me, O Lord, when you come into your kingdom." May that always be our prayer to our good and merciful Lord, and may Easter joy enlighten us all. - James Kushiner, Fellowship of St. James

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