Thursday of the Twenty-first Week in Ordinary Time
(I Corinthians 1:1-9; Matthew 24:42-51)
All Christians enjoy the story of the so-called good thief. He is the one of the two men crucified along with Jesus. In the twelfth century this man acquired a name, Dismas, which means death or sunset. The Gospel According to Luke is the only one of the four which mentions the conversation of Dismas with Jesus. Interestingly, Luke never calls him a thief. Rather Luke calls him a “criminal” by which he means revolutionary. It has been speculated that the only valid reason that he may be called a thief is that he stole heaven. Without following Jesus, he is awarded a place at Jesus’ side in Paradise.
Jesus himself may be more properly labeled the “good thief.” In the gospel parable today Jesus compares himself to a thief coming in the night. He means that he will come at the moment when we least expect him to reward his faithful followers with everlasting life.
We can also think of Jesus as a thief in the sense that he steals our souls from the clutches of sin and death. Each of us is inclined to excess in relation to created goods. Whether it be food, drink, or sex we usually want more than is good for us. Jesus’ example and, more importantly, the grace from his death and resurrection enable us to overcome these tendencies. If we move with his divine grace, we too will find a place at his side in Paradise.