I am immensely touched by Jesus’ words on Calvary Hill – his pardon of his executioners and mercy for the Good Thief. The passages are only in Luke, powerful statements of the gospel’s themes of forgiveness and reconciliation.
“Father forgive them, for they know not what they do.” Luke 23:34
“Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” And he said to him, “Truly I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.” Luke 23:41-43
How can we doubt that God will forgive our sins when His Son forgave those who crucified Him?
One of my most moving experiences ever at Good Friday services was two years ago at St. Jude Parish in Bossier City. The entire congregation stood. We raised our arms over our heads and passed from one to another, down one pew and to the next, a full-size wooden cross. We chanted over and over, Jesus, remember me, when you come into your ki-ingdom. Jesus, remember me, when you come into your ki-ingdom …
Touching that cross, I felt the full weight of man’s sins, of my sins. I understood that Christ died that day for all of us living today, some 2,000 years later. We were there, with the Good Thief, among the bystanders, shoulder to shoulder with the soldiers and temple officials. We needed God’s mercy then and we need it now. And we owe the same measure of compassion to those who wrong us.