At morning Mass on this Feast Day of St. Luke the Evangelist, I learned many things about the Gospel writer that I had previously not known. Most of all, I learned about stories of forgiveness that are in Luke’s Gospel that are not in the others. One of them happens to be my favorite Gospel story of all – that of the good thief.
If you are not familiar with the story, it is found in Luke Chapter 23. Jesus is on the Cross, and on each side of him is a thief also being crucified. One thief mocks Jesus, while the other, the good thief, basically bashes the other thief and says, “Don’t you fear God? You received the same sentence he did. Our, however, is only right, because we are getting what we deserve for what we did; but he has done no wrong.” The thief then turns to Jesus and says, “Remember me, Jesus, when you come as King!” Because of his words, Jesus forgives him his sins and tells him that he will see him in paradise.
This is one of my favorite stories of forgiveness because it shows the relationship between hope and forgiveness. The first thief had no hope at the time of his death and seems bitter towards Jesus in his mocking. The other thief, however, has hope and asks Jesus to remember him. His hope is what allows his forgiveness to take place. A good priest once told me we could choose to be like either thief in our lives—like the thief without hope, or the one with hope—and the choice is up to us.
Forgiveness is hard thing to do; anyone who has been called to forgive someone who has wronged them knows that. But with God, we can learn what it means to forgive someone, and perhaps learn to follow in his merciful and loving footsteps. I know that I plan to read the Gospel of Luke again with my thoughts on forgiveness to see what I can learn by reading it with fresh insight.
Is there a Gospel story from Luke that you particularly like? Please share with others on this, his feast day!