Luke 23:33-4, 47
A centurion and a criminal experience spiritual and moral compunction, or conviction arising from an awareness of guilt brought about by observing the wrongful torture an innocent Christ endured by crucifixion. By grace, they both perceive the mystery and depth of God’s redeeming mercy and love for humanity in and through the love and suffering of Christ on the cross. The centurion and the criminal are both justly under condemnation all be it in different ways and for different reasons. Their state of condemnation is exposed and brought to the forefront of their consciousness by their discernment of Jesus’ innocence. Both of them verbally proclaim the innocence of Christ. The centurion says, “Certainly this man was innocent.” The criminal says, “this man has done nothing wrong.”
The light of Jesus’ innocence brings into question the lives of the centurion and criminal, forcing them to make a decision. Would they step out of their darkness and into the light now that their deeds were exposed? Or, would they love the darkness they were in and remain there instead?
By the grace of God, both the centurion and the criminal come into the light of Christ’s mercy, forgiveness, love, peace, and life. The centurion praises God! The criminal requests life in Christ’s eternal kingdom. The gospel records that Jesus grants the criminal’s request; “Today, you will be with me in Paradise.” The gospel makes no mention of Christ’s response to the centurion. However, we can trust that whosoever comes to Christ will not be driven away (John 6:37).
Holy Week is a time when we are invited to examine the manner of our lives with the manner of Christ’s life and the glory of his light, truth, and innocence. What we find out about ourselves can be revealing, we may even experience spiritual and moral compunction. Let us take what we find out about ourselves and have it become our Lenten prayer, asking Christ for the mercy and grace to live in a manner worthy of his life and our calling.
Questions for Reflection:
The Grace We Need – For the grace to acknowledge the need for the gifts of Christ in our lives.
Let nothing disturb you; nothing frighten you; All things are passing; God never changes; Patient endurance attains all things; Whoever possesses God is wanting in nothing; God alone suffices. Teresa of Avila