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St. Mary of Egypt

In last Sunday’s Gospel (Mark 9:17-31), the disciples were disappointed because they could not cast out a demon from a young man, but Christ did. His disciples asked him privately, “Why could we not cast it out?” The Lord responds, “This kind cannot be driven out by anything but prayer.

The Holy Thief

We find ourselves once again in the midst of the cross, in the middle of the church. There is much to consider, much that must change.

Is the cross in our midst this morning just a piece of wood, or is it something much more personal to us? This is the question each of us needs to think about today, and moving forward through the remainder of Lent.

We live fragmented lives which leads to great confusion, and if we allow it, ends in deep despair, the foretaste of hell the church fathers refer to it. Yet, there is a need for us to embrace the cross in a figurative and literal sense. The cross is the instrument of comfort, of healing, and of hope, and in the final analysis, of resurrection. Embracing the cross is the only way we can be saved from ourselves.

There must be a buy-in component to the cross from each of us.

For the sake of simplification, I would like to tell a story, it is based on the conversation of the two robbers crucified alongside Jesus Christ.

The unrepentant thief mocked Christ and told him if he was the Christ, the Son of the Living God, come down from the cross and save himself, and them.

The other thief – the Holy Thief – responded by asking how can he say such things …. this man has done nothing wrong … and we received according to our own merits.

Meanwhile, the Holy Thief continued, all that happens to me is just, and I get what I deserve. The Holy Thief then makes one request. “Remember me, O Lord, when you come into your kingdom.

We would do well to see ourselves as the Holy Thief. Like the robber he was, we, too, have stolen from God, and given so little by way of repentance and the desire to change our lives.

Only when we have a buy-in like the Holy Thief will the cross mean anything to us. As we move through the remaining weeks of Lent, may the image of the repentant thief never leave us. And as we journey through the remainder of our early lives, may God bless us that the final words we speak be those of the Holy Thief.

And, then, may be final words we hear, be those of our Lord.

“Today, you will be with me in paradise.”

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