A dying man asks a dying man for eternal life, the man with no possessions asks for the poor man for his kingdom, the Penitent offers a prayer, possibly the only prayer offered his whole life, to the Great High Priest. In this moment, Pope Benedict XVI reminds us “that God’s mercy can reach us even in our final moments, that even after a misspent life, the plea for his gracious favor is not made in vain.”
There is a natural human desire in all of us to be remembered. It is our secret hope that the dash between the two dates on our future tombstones will actually mean something. We want to be remembered for our achievements, for the values we held, for the morals we upheld, for that which we contributed to society. Yet, all this is like a bubble in the stormy sea of life!
The beauty of this moment on the cross (Luke 23:35-43) is not that the thief wanted to be remembered for his sinful life on earth, but that he was infused with the mercy of God. He was being drawn to the heart his Creator, who was undergoing the same agonizing death.
God infused this thief in three ways. He rebuked the other criminal for his sin, he was accountable for his own crime, and he prayed the most important prayer of his life.
Do we live life in this way? Do we rebuke the unjust and the sins of the world? Do we confess our own crimes committed to God? Do we ask Jesus to fulfill that most innate need …. to remember us. For to be remembered by Jesus in his kingdom is the most important prayer we can ever utter from our lips.
Pope Benedict XVI reminds us that “the cross is [Jesus’] throne, from which he draws the world to himself. From this place of total self-sacrifice, from this place of truly divine love, he reigns as the true king in his own way – a way that neither Pilate nor the members of the Sanhedrin had been able to comprehend.”
At the Cross of Our Lord we behold the enfleshed love that moves the suns and stars, we see a love that assures us that we are not lost in the billions of cosmos in which God holds in his hands. To be remembered is to be re-constituted into God’s life from the love found fasted to the cross, we are etched into God’s enfleshed memory. In this way, people will know that we are with Jesus, we abide with Jesus, and that our salvation is brought forth through our utter human desire to be remembered.