In the Gospel of Luke, we are told that during Our Blessed Lord’s crucifixion, there were two other men suffering the same death, one to either side of Him. The one to Christ’s right has become known as the “Good Thief,” while the one to His left is referred to as the “Unrepentant Thief.”
While the Gospels do not mention specific names, tradition tells us the Good Thief was named Saint Dismas, and the Unrepentant Thief, Gestas.
While both men were suffering the same gruesome execution and were both in the presence of Christ, their reactions to their situation are quite different. Gestas reviles Our Lord and says, “Are You not the Messiah? Save Yourself and us.” (Lk. 23:39) Gestas asks to come down from his cross.
But Dismas does not ask to be taken down. Dismas rebukes Gestas and proclaims Christ’s innocence, and in one of the most startling and beautiful moments of the Gospel, does not ask to be taken down from his sure and painful death. He asks, instead, to be taken up with Christ, saying “Jesus, remember me when You come into Your kingdom.” (Lk 23:42). Jesus replies to Saint Dismas saying, “Amen, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise.”
This is the lesson of Saint Dismas, who accepted his cross, and placed his hope not in this world, but in the promise of the next. Which of these two are you? Do wish to come down from your cross and continue to be of this earth, or do you wish to accept your cross and be taken up to Christ in the life to come?
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