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Sunday, November 24, 2013

Homily 11-24-2013 The Good Thief

!!Look at the cross while this Gospel is read!

Last Sunday Jesus tells us we will be persecuted. Danger lies ahead for Christians. Yet, Jesus also said do not worry about it. Today, he shows us what exactly he means by all of that in His own Passion and death. We follow Our Lord who practices what He preaches, who loves until the end.
The Cross above our altar stays in the same spot almost all year long, but throughout the Church year with its changing readings and seasons, takes on a different emphasis and highlights a different aspect of its endless mystery.
Today, as we reflect on the reality that Our Lord Jesus Christ is the King of the Universe, of all time and space, we are struck by the scandal of the cross. Declared a king by his death sentence, his crown is a crown of intense suffering, and almost all of those around him are mocking him to shame. A King who rules from a cross is not much of a king, it would seem. But the Resurrection verifies our faith: the one who conquers death truly is the King of the Jews and of the entire universe. There we see that love is stronger than death, that there is always hope where there is sacrificial love.

We call the last person in today's Gospel the “Good thief”: this tells us that the person is good. Evil actions do not destroy the image of God in which we were created. It never can and never will.
However, that is what the devil wants us to believe. The lies he whispers (“You are bad!”) are what corrupt the heart of the other thief; that is why he is spiteful and spews out words of malice to Christ. He has lost hope. The bad thief sins against the Holy Spirit by blaspheming God and by denying the truth of his actions. The truth is this: God died on a cross so that I, a sinner, might repent. Now, not later, just like the Good Thief today.

Jesus says at the beginning of the Gospel the summary proclamation: "the kingdom of God is at hand: repent, and believe in the gospel!" And here at the end of the story (not including the resurrection), we see that happening right before our eyes.

We also should say every day “Lord Jesus remember me when you come into your kingdom.”

"Today, you will be with me in paradise..." These words fit us in the Mass. Here we are united with God in our own glimpse of the paradise of heaven. Let us beg Jesus to fill our hearts with hope, hope founded on His Love and His Resurrection, hope that helps us to remember who we are in His eyes and inspires us to repent and believe in the Gospel.

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