“The other rebuked him, saying, ‘Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? And we indeed have been condemned justly, for we are getting what we deserve for our deeds, but this man has done nothing wrong.’ Then he said: ‘Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.'” (Luke 23:40-42, NRSV)
I believe in God, who we crucify still.
So, this is how it will end.
A true and righteous man, too true and too righteous for his government and so they treat him as they do the common criminals. Crucified. Scorned. Abandoned.
He is nailed to his cross in solidarity with women executed under the Taliban, in solidarity with pacifists killed by firing squad, in solidarity with the victims of the IRA, in solidarity with Matthew Shepard and Damilola Taylor and Lucy Meadows.
And even in this moment, he will not back down. “Father, forgive them,” he says.
Father, forgive us.
God of the repentant, your Son came to us with a message of love.
As we call to mind the promise to the thief,
we pray for ourselves.
For the faith to trust in an unending and unconditional love.
For the grace to accept forgiveness without limits.
For the hope to see beyond the cross
and to look to the day when we will enter with him into that heavenly city.
Jerusalem, Jerusalem, return to the Lord your God.