“One of the criminals who were hanged railed at him, saying, ‘Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us!’ But the other rebuked him, saying, ‘Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? And we indeed justly; for we are receiving the due reward of our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.’ And he said to Jesus, ‘Remember me, Lord, when you come into your kingdom.’ And he said to him, ‘Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.’” (Lk 23: 39-43)
So the penitent thief – a grave sinner and a criminal, – is capable of speaking the truth to another criminal, and even of a profession of faith, connected with a prayerful request. He is not silenced in his tragic place, of “receiving the due reward” of his deeds.
Let me not be silent, when I find myself in a similar place. Let me recognize what God is showing me, after I’ve made a sinful mess of things. I can speak up and bear witness to His justice, rather than get stuck in self-pity or self-justification. And let me recognize Him crucified right next to me, bearing with me all the consequences of my mess. I speak up and say to Him this Friday, as another sinner said many Fridays ago, “Remember me, Lord, when you come into your kingdom.”