Wednesday, January 14, 2009



                                    The Gospel of St. Luke records that two criminals were crucified on either side of Jesus. Legends say that the thief crucified on His right side was Dismas and the one on His left was Gestas (Gesmas). Gestas was abusing Jesus continuously even while hanging on his cross. But Dismas was touched by the innocence of Jesus and by His prayer for forgiving His persecutors. He repented and rebuked Gestas for his blasphemous and cruel words to Jesus. Dismas prayed to Jesus, "Remember me, Jesus, when you come as King!"{Luke 23:42}.This was his last prayer, perhaps it was also his first prayer.  
                                     Jesus accepted and answered his prayer immediately, forgave his sins and offered him entry into Paradise. Jesus said to him, "I promise you that today you will be in Paradise with me" {Luke 23:43}. Archbishop Fulton. J. Sheen remarked, "The thief died a thief, for he stole Paradise!" The thief acknowledged Jesus as his Saviour when all His disciples except John had deserted Him. Dismas could escort Jesus to Heaven.

                                    There is a popular legend about the early days of Dismas. The Holy Family fleeing from Bethlehem to Egypt, to escape from the infanticide ordered by King Herod, sought refuge in a cave on the way. St. Mary requested the lady living there to give some water to bathe Baby Jesus. She readily gave it and collected the water in which Jesus was bathed. She then bathed her own baby, Dismas, a leper, in the same water. Dismas was immediately cured miraculously from leprosy. He was the son of a robber and later he joined his father's gang. The incident in his infancy was a symbol of the spiritual healing he was to receive in Calvary.

                                    Prophet Isaiah had foretold, "He willingly gave his life and shared the fate of evil men. He took the place of many sinners and prayed that they might be forgiven" {Isaiah 53:12, Luke 22:37}. The crucifixion was a prototype of the Last Judgment, with the judge, Jesus at the centre and the thieves representing the saved and the lost, the two divisions of humanity, on either side.
                                    The kind words of Jesus to the penitent sinner reflect the prophetic message of the Old Testament, "You are stained red with sin, but I will wash you as clean as snow. Although your stains are deep red, you will be as white as wool" {Isaiah 1: 18}.

                                    Jesus had said, "I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine respectable people who do not need to repent."{Luke 15:7}.
By: N.G.Philip, Bethel, Nalamchira, Thiruvananthapuram-695015, Kerala, India &
Dr. Babu Philip, Professor, Cochin University of Science & Technology, Fine Arts Avenue, Kochi-682016, Kerala, India.
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