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        The Gospels narrate that Christ was crucified between two criminals.  One was described as the good thief whose example we must imitate and the other is the bad thief whose example we must avoid. 

        Isn't it strange that the example of the good thief is presented to us on the feast of Christ the King?  St. Cyril answers that this is the most spectacular case of conversion in Scriptures.  The good thief was saved immediately because his conversion was immediate.  And, mind you, there was no shortcut.  He went through all the steps that all men are required to go through to be saved.  This is the kind of conversion we need because we do not know when death or the end times will come. 

        The first step is to know all our disobediences to the commands of Christ, to admit these faults and to be willing to undergo everything in reparation for these sins.  Dimas, as the good thief is commonly named, knew his sins: "we are guilty. . ." He admitted this in public within the hearing of those around the cross, and he accepted his crucifixion as reparation for his sins: "we justly deserve this. . ." This is true repentance. 

        St. Thomas is quick to observe that, in human society, when you confess, you are punished.  Before God, when you confess, you are saved.   

        Faith follows true repentance; this is the second step.  So, Dimas looks at Christ and calls Him "Lord".  At the same time, he saw that Christ was innocent and the other thief was guilty.  Ordinarily, it is impossible for humans to know who is innocent and guilty; so Christ forbids us to judge others. But Dimas, because of his humility, the fruit of true repentance, was granted by God the grace of knowing who is innocent and who is guilty.  This grace is given only to saints and Dimas was about to become a saint.  The other thief, like the Pharisees and the Jews, were not given this grace;  so they judged Christ as guilty and Barabbas as innocent.

        Faith is followed by Hope, the third step.  Dimas, though realizing he was tainted with a thousand sins, dared to ask Christ for entrance into Paradise.  "Remember me when Thou art in Paradise."  Dimas asked to be remembered and he got something more -- he was saved.  The bad thief asked to be saved and he was not even remembered, "If Thou art the Son of God, save us. . ."

        The fourth step is Charity that comes from true repentance, faith and hope.  Dimas corrected the bad thief.  This is fraternal correction, one of the highest forms of charity, and he defended Christ, the highest form of Charity

        Dimas, because of his true repentance, received the three theological virtues of faith, hope and charity.  This is Christian perfection to which all Christians are called:  "Be perfect as My heavenly Father is perfect."     







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