“Amen I Say to You Today You Will Be With Me in Paradise”

Fr. B. M. Thomas – Priest of Bombay Diocese – The Malankara Church – 21/4/19

The Church after the great Lenten season arrives at the marvelous feast of the resurrection of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. Christ endured all the disgusts and torments at the cross, he tasted death and defeated it. The gates of paradise had been closed since Adam had committed his sin, but Jesus Christ opened those gates with his suffering. And this all was done so that us ‘the sinners’ who repent may enter with him and experience the glory of paradise with him on this great day.

Repentance from sins is a must for unification with Christ. Evil has invaded the whole human race and afflicted our minds and thoughts with innumerable sins, which spreads with these great scourges, namely, idolatry, robbery, vanity, fornication, theft, murder, slander, licentiousness, envy, hatred, contempt, anger, sorcery, pollution, fraud, arrogance, perjury, falsehood, corruption, lust, deceit and whatever is similar in them. These are the traps which the evil has set for humanity. The slightest of any of these will make us impure and inaccessible to our savior. In the Gospel according to St. Luke we read that among the two thieves who were crucified with our savior. One mocked him saying ‘If you are Son of God then save us’, but the other had repentance and is often called as the ‘penitent thief’, or the ‘good thief’, for he was promised by our Lord that “Amen I say to you today you will be with me in paradise”.

We have a Lord and God who is, expects our transformation and who is ready to accept us and embrace us to be one with Him, at any moment. As we see here that it was at the verge of death that Jesus redeems the penitent thief. But the great question is, are we ready? Are we accepting that we are sinners? Are our eyes closed to the sins that we have committed?

It is very commonly seen that three types of people come for confessions, the first are those who come prepared and with full repentance. The second type is those who come without any repentance and preparations. Most of them confess the same sins every year, just for the sake of confessing and showing in front of others that they too have confessed. There is a third type of people, who don’t know what to do as according to them they have not committed any sins, in their lives and at the time of confession they have nothing to confess, and they think that they are pure and have nothing to repent on. We have to review and see, in which category do we fall?

It is the true repentance and faith affirmation that rebukes our sins. For our Lord who promised paradise for the Good Thief, stretches his hands and reminds us ….

“As you have recognized the nobility of my head on the cross, you who have shared with me in the suffering of the cross will be my companion in the joy of my kingdom. You have glorified me in the presence of carnal men, in the presence of sinners. I will, therefore, glorify you in the presence of the angels. You were fixed with me on the cross, and you united yourself with me of your own free will. I will, therefore, love you, and my Father will love you, and the angels will serve you with my holy food. If you used once to be a companion of murderers, behold, I who am the life of all have now made you a companion with me. You used once to walk in the night with the sons of darkness; behold I who am the light of the whole world have now made you walk with me. You used once to take counsel with murderers; behold, I who am the Creator have made you a companion with me. ‘All these things I will pardon you because you have confessed my divinity in the presence of those who have denied me. For they saw all the signs which I performed but did not believe in me. You, then, a rapacious robber, a murderer, a brigand, a swindler, a plunderer have confessed that I am God. That is why I have pardoned you all your sins…’(collected from The Homily of Theophilos of Alexandria: The Crucifixion and the Good Thief).

Let us also resurrect from our sins in this resurrection season. Let us also have true repentance so that we can hear our Lord say to us “Amen I say to you today you will be with me in paradise” so that we can enjoy with him in paradise, and be one with Him on this Easter occasion. Then only our affirmative saying on this day that “CHRIST IS RISEN. INDEED HE IS RISEN” will bring forth fruit because the affirmation will be shown through our actions and our actions will be fruitful only if we repent from our heart with tears in our eyes. If we do so, we will be able to bring the peace Christ has promised after resurrection amidst us and will be able to restore the humankind the lost paradise. So let us turn back and truly mean what we say that “CHRIST IS RISEN; INDEED HE IS RISEN.

OCP News Service