St Luke 23:26-44

Luke 23:

26 Et cum ducerent eum, apprehenderunt Simonem quemdam Cyrenensem venientem de villa: et imposuerunt illi crucem portare post Jesum. 27 Sequebatur autem illum multa turba populi et mulierum, quæ plangebant et lamentabantur eum. 28 Conversus autem ad illas Jesus, dixit: Filiæ Jerusalem, nolite flere super me, sed super vos ipsas flete et super filios vestros. 29 Quoniam ecce venient dies in quibus dicent: Beatæ steriles, et ventres qui non genuerunt, et ubera quæ non lactaverunt. 30 Tunc incipient dicere montibus: Cadite super nos; et collibus: Operite nos. 31 Quia si in viridi ligno hæc faciunt, in arido quid fiet? 32 Ducebantur autem et alii duo nequam cum eo, ut interficerentur. 33 Et postquam venerunt in locum qui vocatur Calvariæ, ibi crucifixerunt eum: et latrones, unum a dextris, et alterum a sinistris. 34 Jesus autem dicebat: Pater, dimitte illis: non enim sciunt quid faciunt. Dividentes vero vestimenta ejus, miserunt sortes.35 Et stabat populus spectans, et deridebant eum principes cum eis, dicentes: Alios salvos fecit, se salvum faciat, si hic est Christus Dei electus. 36 Illudebant autem ei et milites accedentes, et acetum offerentes ei, 37 et dicentes: Si tu es rex Judæorum, salvum te fac. 38 Erat autem et superscriptio scripta super eum litteris græcis, et latinis, et hebraicis: Hic est rex Judæorum. 39 Unus autem de his, qui pendebant, latronibus, blasphemabat eum, dicens: Si tu es Christus, salvum fac temetipsum et nos. 40 Respondens autem alter increpabat eum, dicens: Neque tu times Deum, quod in eadem damnatione es. 41 Et nos quidem juste, nam digna factis recipimus: hic vero nihil mali gessit. 42 Et dicebat ad Jesum: Domine, memento mei cum veneris in regnum tuum. 43 Et dixit illi Jesus: Amen dico tibi: hodie mecum eris in paradiso.

[26] And as they led him away, they laid hold of one Simon of Cyrene, coming from the country; and they laid the cross on him to carry after Jesus. [27] And there followed him a great multitude of people, and of women, who bewailed and lamented him. [28] But Jesus turning to them, said: Daughters of Jerusalem, weep not over me; but weep for yourselves, and for your children. [29] For behold, the days shall come, wherein they will say: Blessed are the barren, and the wombs that have not borne, and the paps that have not given suck. [30] Then shall they begin to say to the mountains: Fall upon us; and to the hills: Cover us. [31] For if in the green wood they do these things, what shall be done in the dry? [32] And there were also two other malefactors led with him to be put to death. [33] And when they were come to the place which is called Calvary, they crucified him there; and the robbers, one on the right hand, and the other on the left. [34] And Jesus said: Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do. But they, dividing his garments, cast lots. [35] And the people stood beholding, and the rulers with them derided him, saying: He saved others; let him save himself, if he be Christ, the elect of God. [36] And the soldiers also mocked him, coming to him, and offering him vinegar, [37] And saying: If thou be the king of the Jews, save thyself. [38] And there was also a superscription written over him in letters of Greek, and Latin, and Hebrew: THIS IS THE KING OF THE JEWS. [39] And one of those robbers who were hanged, blasphemed him, saying: If thou be Christ, save thyself and us. [40] But the other answering, rebuked him, saying: Neither dost thou fear God, seeing thou art condemned under the same condemnation?[41] And we indeed justly, for we receive the due reward of our deeds; but this man hath done no evil. [42] And he said to Jesus: Lord, remember me when thou shalt come into thy kingdom. [43] And Jesus said to him: Amen I say to thee, this day thou shalt be with me in paradise.

Commentary (de Lapide)

Ver. 39.—And one of the malefactors which were hanged—(this one, according to tradition, hung on the left hand of Christ)—railed on Him, saying, If thou be Christ, save thyself and us.
If thou be the Christ, and Saviour of the world, save Thyself and us, free us from the cross and restore us to life and liberty. Christ chose to undergo the most bitter sufferings from all classes, and to be mocked and blasphemed, not only by the scribes and Jews, but even by the robber, the companion of His punishment. This made His trial the more hard; for the robber ought to have suffered with Christ and to have taken thought for the salvation of his soul, and to have begged it of Christ; as we also should beg that we may be quiet under scoffs, derisions, and insults, and be patient in mind and silent in speech.

Ver. 40.—But the other (who is said to have hung on the right side) answering rebuked him. The Syriac says, “Dost thou not fear, no, not even from God” (etiam, non, a Deo, non tirmes tu)?—that is, the scribes and Jews are well and strong and do not fear God, and therefore scoff at Christ; but thou, who art tormented on the cross, oughtest to fear Him, lest He punish thee severely, for blaspheming His Christ so sacrilegiously. This robber showed that he not only feared God himself, for “the beginning of wisdom” (and salvation) “is the fear of the Lord” (Ecclus. i. 16), but he also exhorted his companion to the same fear. That is, Let the Jews mock at Christ; we ought to fear God, because we are in the same condemnation—the punishment of the cross, to which we are justly condemned. 

But Christ, who was innocent was so condemned unjustly. Again, we should rather compassionate a companion in punishment, especially if innocent, than reproach him; because we ought to prepare ourselves for death and the judgment of God, where we shall give account for our blasphemy and undergo the heavy punishment of Gehenna. In his words, “Dost thou not fear God?” he seems to allude to Christ and to confess Him to be God. As if he had said, “Fear thou the retribution of Christ, whom thou blasphemest, for He is not only man but God also.” For, that he believed this from Christ’s illumination we shall shortly see. So S. Ambrose, and Eusebius, whose words I will produce.

Ver. 41.—And we indeed justly; for we receive the due reward of our deeds. This was an act of profound and public confession, contrition, and repentance, by which he expiated his former sins.
But this man hath done nothing amiss. The Greek is άτοπον, which means out of harmony, unbecoming incongruous, nothing worthy of the slightest blame or reprehension. Lo! a free and public confession of, and testimony to, the innocence of Christ, given before the scribes and rulers, who had condemned Him, fearing nothing.

Ver. 42.—And he said unto Jesus, Lord, remember me when thou comest into Thy kingdom. “The heavenly and divine kingdom, to which Thou passest through the death of the cross, that shortly Thou mayest enter into it by death, and bring into it Thine elect. Wherefore I beseech Thee to bring me also into it with Thyself, and I implore of Thee pardon for all sinners, for whom I very greatly grieve. I offer to Thee, moreover, the torments of this cross, and the death upon it which I willingly undergo. To this end, I wholly resign, dedicate, and consecrate myself to Thee; I would that it were given to me to suffer these and still other torments for Thy faith and love.” These words show his living and ardent faith, hope, love, humility, patience, contrition, and other virtues.

Moraliter. Learn from this the strength, efficacy, and swiftness of the grace of Christ, by which, from the cross itself, He made a man holy, most holy. Wonderful was the conversion of S. M. Magdalene—wonderful that of S. Paul, but much more wonderful this of the thief. For S. Mary had witnessed the words and miracles, of Christ; and S. Paul had felt Him strike him from heaven; but the thief on the very cross, where Christ was suffering the infamous and atrocious death of a criminal, was converted to Him by herioc acts of faith, love, devotion, &c...

Ver. 43.—And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, This day shalt thou be with Me in Paradise. That is, in a place of pleasure where thou mayest be in the beatitude and beatific vision of God, i.e. To-day I will make thee for ever happy; I will make thee a king reigning in the kingdom of glory with me this day. So S. Cyril of Jerusalem (Catechet. Lect. c. 13); S. Chrysostom (Hom. ii. de Cruce et Latrone); S. Gregory of Nyssa (Serm. on the Resurrection); S. Augustine (Tract. III on John). He explains paradise by heaven, that is celestial beatitude. It is certain that Christ on the day on which He died, did not go up to heaven with the thief, but went down into the Limbus Patrum (S. Augustine Lib. ii. de Genese ad litt. chap. 34; and Maldonatus by paradise here understand Abraham’s bosom), and imparted to them the vision of His Godhead and thus made them blest, changing the order of things; for He then made limbus to be paradise, and the lower parts the upper, so that hell should be heaven. For where Christ is, there is paradise; where, the vision and beatitude of God, there, heaven. For, as to what Euthymius and other Greeks say, denying that the souls of the saints see God before the judgment and are happy: by paradise they understand an earthly place; that to which Enoch was carried. But it cannot be so—for it is of the faith that Christ, shortly after His death went down in infernum—that is, the limbus of the Fathers, but He did not go into any earthly paradise. It is, moreover, uncertain whether, after the Deluge, there be any earthly paradise remaining. But grant that there be such, it is the happy and joyful habitation, not of souls, but of bodies only. Hence it is plain from this passage, against the Greeks, Calvin, and the other innovators, that the souls of the saints, when thoroughly purged from sin, do not sleep till the day of judgment, but there behold God, and are beatified by a vision of Him.

Moraliter. Observe here the liberality of Christ, who exceeds our prayers and vows. The thief only prayed Christ to remember him when He came into His kingdom. Christ at the same time promised him a kingdom, that he might reign in it as a king. “This day,” says Eusebius of Emissa, in his “Homily on the Blessed Thief”—“as if He would say, 0 my faithful companion and one only witness of so great a triumph, dost thou think that I need to be so earnestly entreated to remember thee? this day shalt thou be with Me in paradise.” And again, “Christ when placed in the yoke (patibulum) as an arbiter between the two condemned, rejected him who denied, and received the one who confessed; on the latter He bestows a kingdom, the former He leaves in hell. Let us then believe that He will come to judge, whom we see to have already on the cross exercised judgment.” This is that most sweet answer of Christ to the thief which Fulgentius (serm. nov. 60), calls “the testament of Christ, written with the pen of the cross.”

Lastly, the name of this most blessed thief is said to have been Dismas, for some chapels are found, in the name of “Dismas the Robber.” His day in the Cataloaue of Saints is the 25th March, for on that day he seems to have suffered, and Christ in consequence on the same day. For we find in it, “At Jerusalem, the commemoration of the holy thief who confessed Christ on the cross, and who therefore merited to hear ‘This day shalt thou be with Me in paradise.’”

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