Today is Lady Day, the Feast of the Annunciation, the instant of the Incarnation… and we would be celebrating it if it were not for the vagaries of the Moon. Palm Sunday and Holy Week have pushed our observance to another day.
However, 25 March is also the Feast of the Good Thief, St. Dismas!
There is a legend that, during the Holy Family’s flight from Herod to Egypt, they ran into Dismas, who was exercising his trade of thievery. Dismas was going to rob them, but seeing the Infant Jesus, he instead gave them shelter in his lair and let them go on their way without harming them. Dismas would continue to be a nefarious ne’er-do-well. His intellect still darkened by sin on Calvary kept him from recognizing Christ’s Mother.
Sin makes you stupid.
If true – and I don’t think we should immediately dismiss legends – I wonder if Mary recognized him and prayed for him in that horrible glorious moment.
Somehow, Dismas got another chance. Christ is merciful and He listens to his mother.
And one of those robbers who were hanged, [Gesmas] blasphemed him, saying: If thou be Christ, save thyself and us. But the other [Dismas] answering, rebuked him, saying: Neither dost thou fear God, seeing thou art condemned under the same condemnation? And we indeed justly, for we receive the due reward of our deeds; but this man hath done no evil. And he said to Jesus: Lord, remember me when thou shalt come into thy kingdom. And Jesus said to him: Amen I say to thee, this day thou shalt be with me in paradise.
It makes the heart ache, to read these words addressed to that penitent sinner.
Would that they were address to each one of us.
But wait! They can be.
Holy Church has the Lord’s own authority to forgive sins, to loose and to bind!
It is exercised by His bishops and priests!
GO TO CONFESSION!