Tag Archives: repentance

Morning Thoughts: The Bad Thief

rembrandt-self-portrait-c-1668

Rembrandt, “Self Portrait”, c. 1668 (detail)

 


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The Bad Thief
.


.
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good thief
bad thief
Savior in between
how is it
that you and i
can be all three?
.
we know of Jesus
as perfect
as perfect can be
speaking faith
breathing forgiveness
the Word
bound up
still
completely free
.
we know too
of the good thief
turning
turning toward Goodness
our Goodness
so gracious
hanging there
tortured
beside him
beside the good thief
Jesus nailed
one with the tree
.
we know too
what happened
what happened then
to the prodigal thief
humility
contriteness
a humble heart
spurned not
yes
true repentance
sorrow for sin
painful sorrow
paid forth
by a sinless man
and God
God the father
accepting the fee
the precious blood
of Jesus Christ
setting him
the good thief free
.
but what
what of the other one
what of the thief
named bad
what of him
unrepentant
deserving to hang
what of that poor man
that poor
prideful soul
just like you and me
that poor
nameless sinner
just like you and me
also hanging
hanging there
hanging above Mary
and the disciple
Jesus loved
hanging there
upon a third
a third
rarely talked about tree
.
who is he?
but you and me
.
i am the bad thief
.
and so are you
.
i have stolen
stolen so much
.
especially time
.
what have you
in your pocket
that isn’t thine?
.
Jesus makes it
perfectly clear
what happens
what happens to thieves
thieves like us
who simply say
i’m sorry
yet even His promise
His promise
full of mercy
His promise
of paradise
of paradise in fact
that very day
doesn’t stop
his good thieving legs
from being smashed
his repentant body
completely broken
head to toe
no
not even Christ’s promise
the promise
from the King Himself
removes the good thief
from the gift
from the gift that is his cross
.
but what of the other one
what of you and me
what of us
thieves who also lie
who reject justice
Justice hanging
right next-door
what of the bad thief
can be redeemed
what of the bad thief
in you and me
God only knows
.
mercy
mercy
mercy
Father
upon the dead
both the living
and the deceased
mercy
mercy
mercy
Father
upon us all
upon Your children
Your children turned thieves
whose faith
and sorrow
is known
by You
and You alone
.
good thief
bad thief
Savior in between
how is it
that you and i
and all the rest
of all humanity
can lack
to such a degree
true repentance
true humility
.
good thief
bad thief
Savior in between
how is it
that you and i
are all three?
.


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—Howard Hain

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Ash Wednesday Thoughts

We should be humble in mind, putting aside all arrogance, pride and foolish anger. Rather, we should act in accordance with the Scriptures, as the Holy Spirit says: The wise person must not glory in his wisdom nor the strong one in his strength nor the rich one in his riches. Rather, let him who glories glory in the Lord by seeking him and doing what is right and just. Recall especially what the Lord Jesus said when he taught gentleness and forbearance. Be merciful, he said, so that you may have mercy shown to you. Forgive, so that you may be forgiven. As you treat others, so you will be treated. As you give, so you will receive. As you judge, so you will be judged. As you are kind to others, so you will be treated kindly. The measure of your giving will be the measure of your receiving.”

St. Clement of Rome

Ash Wednesday: Remembering and Turning

Religious language and customs lose their meaning when we don’t think about them. The ashes used today are from palm branches from last year’s Palm Sunday celebration. Once carried to shouts of glory, they’re reminders now of death. “Remember you are dust, and to dust you shall return.”

The biblical word “repent” is translated “turn”–calling us to turn away from sin and turn to God. It’s a certain kind of turning we’re called to make. Not a casual turning from curiosity, quickly returning to what really matters–ourselves.
We’re called to turn to God, our creator and redeemer, keeping  our eyes fixed on the One who is the source of our life.  We turn to God in humble appreciation to receive his promise of forgiveness and love.
“Someone wise must not glory in his wisdom, someone strong must not glory in his strength, someone rich must not glory in his riches.”

We come to God with nothing, so we might be filled.

Turning from sin, from anger, from resentment, we come to a gentle, forgiving  God who blesses us with gifts this holy season, through the intercession of Jesus, his Son. We know we have turned if we are gentle and forgiving of one another.
We are blessed with the sign of his cross today.