Tradition explains that Jesus hung dying between the hours of 12:00 noon and 3:00 pm. For three hours He hung between “two robbers… one on the right and one on the left.” (Matt 27:38)
Tradition also explains that one is identified as a “good thief” and the other as a “bad thief.” This seems appropriate as Jesus is always in-between what is good and what is bad.
The Gospels record part of the conversation between the good thief and Jesus. The thief confesses, “I am a sinful man. My fate is my own doing. In Your charity… will You remember me when You come into Your Kingdom.” (Lk 23:42)
Those words were sweet music to the ears and heart of our Lord. They were words coming from the thief of confession and contrition and seeking peace and a new way. Just when it seemed like that the “Sanhedrin Plot” was going to work out and Jesus would finally be pushed into obscurity… “out of sight, out of mind”… the mystery of the Holy Spirit moves the heart of a dying man to confess his sinful ways and seek a life with Jesus. The “hidden fruit” of the Cross is already blossoming.
Who knows how many people passed by the Cross screaming their insults and ridicule and taunting Jesus to show what power He had and “come down from the Cross.” (Matt 27:40)
Jesus was deeply moved by the petition of the thief. His heart was filled with joy. “I assure you, Jesus replies, that this day you will be with Me in Paradise.” (Lk 23:43)
The fruit of the Cross is limitless because it is always at work. It’s power and authority has filled the world with God’s peace, and with His grace and loving forgiveness. It has restored peace to the guilty, and given everlasting happiness to souls who seek God’s Kingdom. Today the Cross reminds billions that everlasting salvation is available today, any time, any place, anywhere.
The redemption which Christ carried out on “the hill of the skull” is now applied to those who open their heart and will to receive Jesus and His way. The Son of God loves, thats all He can do. And He died for you in the hopes you would come to love His sacrifice.
A precious way we access the eternal Cross and its fruits are in the Mass Jesus established in the Upper Room on Maundy Thursday night. By receiving Holy Communion we are able to stay on the path He has made for us that moves us from death to life… from struggles and sins to new beginnings and healing.