By Fr. Andrew Kelly
As recorded in Sunday’s Gospel (Luke 23:35-43), the story of Jesus ends with Jesus being condemned to death on the cross surrounded by a sneering and jeering crowd. But for people of faith, the new story of Jesus Christ begins on that very same cross.
Every believer, and every human being, justly and unjustly, is condemned to death just as Jesus was. Death is the inevitable end of every human story.
Is inevitable death denied and resisted? Yes. One criminal hanging crucified on an instrument of death begs Jesus for the magic exit from the inevitable: “Are you not the Messiah (Christ)? Save yourself and us!”
Jesus embraced the cross and embraced the death sentence of every human being. The other criminal hanging, with the same death sentence over his head, saw and believed in the significance of Jesus’ death as the new beginning: “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.”
Any human being willing to take the risk of faith by embracing death in the death of Jesus, the dying Jesus embraces in return and announces to the world and to anyone willing to believe: “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in Paradise.”
(Father Andrew Kelly is pastor of St. Mary Parish in Mechanicsville.)