The penitent thief asks Jesus to remember him when he begins to reign. He is right away welcomed into paradise with Christ.
When we hear the word paradise, invariably we think of a place where joy and fulfillment abound. The garden of Eden was a paradise that was lost when Adam and Eve sinned and were driven out of the garden. Our world is far from an edenic paradise, and so we tend to think of paradise being up in the heavens, somewhere that is not here.
Do we, then, need to await death to enter paradise? We get a clue in the words of Jesus. Jesus tells the thief that he will be with him in paradise. Yes, when one is with Jesus, he or she is indeed in paradise. By taking on human flesh, the Word has come to dwell among us (see John 1:14). In the book of Revelation, John proclaims, “See, the home of God is among mortals” (Rev. 21:3).
This means that paradise is a daily possibility for us. Paradise is ours if we are willing to enter it with humility, accepting the gracious offer of God through Christ.
Every time we pray to Christ, “Remember me,” we are in God’s paradise. So let us begin each day with this prayer. Christ’s presence with us can turn every day into a heavenly fulfilling day.
O God, thank you for being with us every day. May we awaken to that truth and experience this day as a day in paradise with you. Amen.
Our readings for the week highlight the Reign of Christ. Jeremiah prophesies about a future King from the line of David who will bring justice, righteousness, and security for the people of God. Luke 1 records the song of Zechariah, the father of John the Baptist. Zechariah praises God for raising up salvation from the house of David as God had promised through the prophets. This child will bring mercy, forgiveness, and light. Luke 23 recounts part of the story of the death of Jesus. Here Jesus, the Light of the world, dies as an act of mercy for our forgiveness. In Colossians, Christ holds first place above everything else. Through his death we are forgiven and brought from the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of light.
Read Jeremiah 23:1-6. How do you trust in God’s promises to bring safety and justice as you watch unjust rulers oppress and abandon their followers?
Read Luke 1:68-79. What will you say when you break your silence?
Read Colossians 1:11-20. Recall a time when you waited for something in great anticipation. How did your faith help you find patience?
Read Luke 23:33-43. How do you recognize Christ as King when you experience or witness suffering?
Respond by posting a prayer.