I wonder… how often do we identify with Christ more than the criminals who were crucified with Him? It’s easy to do since none of us thinks of ourselves as bad, or at least, not as bad as those two thugs hanging on either side of Jesus. On the other hand, each of us knows that we are not perfect like Christ. but how often do we contemplate the depth of His perfection? How often do we see Him hanging on the cross, recognizing that in His divine nature He is absolute perfection, goodness, wisdom and love and in His human nature He is completely without sin, even original sin. Yes, we know in our minds that it took this perfect, unblemished lamb of a sacrifice to atone for all of our sins and sinfulness but, in our hearts, can we fully grasp the words the “good thief” uttered? Can we recognize with his great faith the unblemished character of His life and proclaim, “this man has done nothing criminal?”
St. Paul, in the second reading, tries to sum up, with partial success, the glory of the man who “has done nothing criminal.”
He is the image of the invisible God.
He is the firstborn of all creation.
He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.
He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead.
We cannot separate the human from divine in the person of Jesus. We cannot even fully comprehend this inseparable union we describe as “hypostatic.”
By His death He turned the world upside down, conquering the evil one’s attempt to destroy Him once and for all. A week before His death the people wanted to make Him king. Instead they killed Him but here He is, slaughtered like a lamb, reigning as true King over all creation. What did the “good thief” see that the other did not – or, maybe, refused to see? What faith was given him that he could recognize the special nature of Jesus and proclaim His innocence for all of us?