MEDITATIONS ON THE PASSION OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST: Meditation Of The Second Word Of Christ.~ Fr. Francois Coster S.J.
JACOBELLO DEL FIORE
The 38. Meditation of the second word of Christ.
And the same thing did the Theives, which were crucified with him, upbraid unto him: and one of the thieves,which were hanged, blasphemed him, saying: If thou art Christ, save thyself, and us: but the other answering, blamed him, saying: Neither doest thou fear God, which art in the same condemnation? We indeed suffer justly, for we receive worthy punishment for our facts, but this man hath done no evil.
Consider first, the ignominy offered to our Lord in this place, either by one thief, according to St. Epiphanies, and St. Augustine; or else in the beginning by both, according to St. Chrysostome, but the one repenting, & the other persevering. For they were most wicked and infamous men, and did worthily suffer, the accursed dath of the Cross. But it did much more afflict our Saviors heart, that he, for whom, and with whom he did shed his blood, should presently be carried headlong into Hell. Learn hereby, that commonly - he, which liveth ill, dieth ill, as he lived ill, except he be changed by Gods special grace. For a sinner is stricken with his judgment, that dying he forgetteth himself, who living was forgetful of God.
Consider secondly the words of the evil Thief (If thou art Christ save thyself and us:) First he wanted faith, who desired a miracle that he might believe. Secondly, he desired temporal life and safety, after the manner of all sinners, who have no care of their everlasting life to come. Thirdly, he spake this perhaps to please the Jews, which stood by: but it profited him nothing, to get their favor; because the world ever giveth a false reward to her followers. Fourthly he once uttered this railing speech, but being rebuked he held his peace; being better then thyself, who art neither amended by good admonition, nor well pleased with him that adviseth thee.
Consider thirdly, the mercy of Christ on the good Thief, whose heart he did not only instruct by outward signs, but also did mollify it by inward grace, so as he profited more in three hours by hearing him teach from the chair of the Cross, then the Apostles did in three years by following our Lord continually, and seeing his miracles. For so great is the force of the cross of our Lord that it doth not only move the sense, but also giveth understanding to the hearing, and addeth affection to the understanding. Therefore this good thief being deprived of all outward things, and having his body stretched upon the Cross, gave only all that was left unto him, to wit, he consecrated his heart and tongue unto Christ. For he believed with his heart to justice, and with his mouth he confessed to salvation, being made a teacher from the chair of the Cross, openly confessing Christ, and freely reproving the vices of the standers by.
Consider fourthly the words pf the good Thief, First with great charity he rebuked his companion, when he sinned, before he craved any thing for himself of our Lord; and he putteth him in mind of his eminent death, for sinners ought to be repressed with the fear of Hell, when they will not be moved with Gods benefits. (Neither doest thou fear God?) a bold word, but worthy of a Martyr. None of these (saith he) fear God; and dearest thou imitate them, being now presently to go before God thy Judge? Secondly, he confesseth his sin and rivets the punishment of the Cross in satisfaction. For it is a sign of a good man to confess his own faults, & to extenuate the sins of other men, if he can. Thirdly he declareth the innocency of Christ: But this man hath done no evil, which saying is true only in Christ, and in his most holy Mother; for he hath done no sin, neither is their any fraud in his mouth. But because he did no sin therefore he ought to beare the sins of all men, and suffer the punishment thereof in his body. The goof Thief reacheth us here, that we should not complain in adversities, but confess our sins, and give glory to God openly, and convert our souls earnestly unto God. Do thou imitate this thief: for death is at thy gates, or at least lyeth in wait for thee. And pray our Lord to strike his saving fear into thy heart.