Lectionary Reflection: Luke 23: 33-43. Paradise.

One can only imagine.  I am headed there and sooner than you might think.  You?  For me, I missed some posts and I was late with this one because I was nearly headed to Paradise this week, but I guess I have to stick around for a bit longer after all.

My heart is dead already.  I understand being abandoned by family and friends.  I have been rejected and abused by whole groups of people in my life.  I understand pain and suffering, too, though I am not nailed to a cross.  I can still move around even if it is agony to do so.  I also understand when no one believes in you.  No one has believed in me since – I can’t remember when.  I belong to God.  That is all that matters.

The worldly crew that surrounds me, and even they who claim the name of Christ, suggest I have wasted my days.  Ambition in America has to do with work and money; and if you don’t have that kind of ambition, you are lazy, a loser.  Thus the people around me sound like Job’s wife, that I would do best to curse God and die.  But I am zealous for God – to make a positive difference in this world, and I have stories to tell – stories he has given me.  And anyway, poverty is overrated as a struggle.  There are far worse conditions a person can get into.

I may one day find a willing publisher for these stories.  Then again, I may simply die and all of the stories, written and unwritten may simply die with me.  Who can say?  That is tomorrow.  In the meanwhile, it is important to remember that we are all thieves and robbers after a fashion. 

The only goodness any of us can claim is comparative.  Jeffrey Dahlmer or Mother Theresa?  Ah, but as someone once said (probably me) the difference between walking along the shore of the Dead Sea or standing on top of Mount Everest seems so significant to our earthly eyes.  We look at the one in the one room hovel and see a vast difference with the one on top of the Empire State Building.  And yet when we consider the infinite reaches of the universe of God, these little earthly differences become insignificant.

We are all thieves after a fashion, deserving of whatever crucifixion befalls us.  Jesus alone did nothing wrong.

I look around at the crowd.  There are scoffers – unbelievers such as are common today.  There was a small group of followers – believers who must have felt as if they were being crucified with Christ – John, Peter, his own mother.  And then there were those who were like so many of us.  “Save yourself,” they cried.  What they were saying was prove to us that you are the Christ.  Show us.  Prove it.

And we pray, so many of us, like three-year-olds.  God, if you loved me you would give me, you would heal me, you would bless me.  God, prove it.  Prove that you care about me.  Prove that you love me.  Show me. 

How often we think we have God backed into a corner where we can force his hand.  There were plenty of people there on that day who imagined God was against the wall.  “Save yourself,” they cried.  But what happened?  God died……………..so that we might live in Paradise.

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