Lenten Reflection Week 2: Luke 23:43

He replied to him, “Amen, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.”

In this saying from the cross, Jesus assures a dying thief that he will be with Him in paradise today. What then is here for us to understand?

Some have used this verse as an argument against the necessity of Baptism, but a careful study of scripture shows this to not be true. This is however an exception to the rule of Baptism. When Peter or Paul preached, they didn’t preach, “Repent and be Baptized – if you want to, or think it’s doctrinally correct.” No! They preached, “Repent and be Baptized,” (Acts 2:38, Rom.6:3-4, Gal. 3:27, I Pet. 3:21).

Let us look at Jesus’ own Baptism. He was certainly not a sinner, and John didn’t even want to baptize Him. Yet, Jesus subjected Himself to John for baptism “to fulfill all righteousness” (Matt. 3:15). So what can we amass from these two examples? I’m sure most would agree that *baptism follows repentance so that all righteousness be fulfilled.

We see fear and repentance in the thief’s confession before Christ, as he rebukes his fellow thief: “Have you no fear of God, for you are subject to the same condemnation? And indeed, we have been condemned justly, for the sentence we received corresponds to our crimes, but this man has done nothing criminal.” Then he turns to Jesus and says, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.”

So, let us ask ourselves these questions:

  • Do we have a fear of God, or do we sin the sin of presumption?

What is the sin of presumption, you ask?

There are two kinds of presumption. Either man presumes upon his own capacities, (hoping to be able to save himself without help from on high), or he presumes upon God’s almighty power or his mercy (hoping to obtain his forgiveness without conversion and glory without merit).CCC 2092

What is the fear of the Lord, you ask? When the thief ask the other, “Have you no fear of God,”this thief must have surely felt the  fear (as in reverence) of the Lord.

He who fears the LORD will have a happy end; even on the day of his death he will be blessed. Sirach 1:11

The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom; Psalm 111:10

The fear of the Lord is also a Hebrew term for religion. Now that’s something to think about, ain’t it?

In this second week of Lent, let us fear God and repent from our sin. It is the beginning of true wisdom, the fruit of true worship and the end is eternal life through Christ our Lord.


* The Church teaches who can receive Baptism from the CCC:

“Every person not yet baptized and only such a person is able to be baptized.”

The Baptism of adults

Since the beginning of the Church, adult Baptism is the common practice where the proclamation of the Gospel is still new. The catechumenate (preparation for Baptism) therefore occupies an important place. This initiation into Christian faith and life should dispose the catechumen to receive the gift of God in Baptism, Confirmation, and the Eucharist.
1248 The catechumenate, or formation of catechumens, aims at bringing their conversion and faith to maturity, in response to the divine initiative and in union with an ecclesial community. The catechumenate is to be “a formation in the whole Christian life . . . during which the disciples will be joined to Christ their teacher. The catechumens should be properly initiated into the mystery of salvation and the practice of the evangelical virtues, and they should be introduced into the life of faith, liturgy, and charity of the People of God by successive sacred rites.”
Catechumens “are already joined to the Church, they are already of the household of Christ, and are quite frequently already living a life of faith, hope, and charity.” “With love and solicitude mother Church already embraces them as her own.”

The Baptism of infants

Born with a fallen human nature and tainted by original sin, children also have need of the new birth in Baptism to be freed from the power of darkness and brought into the realm of the freedom of the children of God, to which all men are called. The sheer gratuitousness of the grace of salvation is particularly manifest in infant Baptism. The Church and the parents would deny a child the priceless grace of becoming a child of God were they not to confer Baptism shortly after birth.
Christian parents will recognize that this practice also accords with their role as nurturers of the life that God has entrusted to them.
The practice of infant Baptism is an immemorial tradition of the Church. There is explicit testimony to this practice from the second century on, and it is quite possible that, from the beginning of the apostolic preaching, when whole “households” received baptism, infants may also have been baptized.

And the church also teaches the different types of Baptism from the CCC:

1258 The Church has always held the firm conviction that those who suffer death for the sake of the faith without having received Baptism are baptized by their death for and with Christ. This Baptism of blood, like the desire for Baptism, brings about the fruits of Baptism without being a sacrament.
1259 For catechumens who die before their Baptism, their explicit desire to receive it, together with repentance for their sins, and charity, assures them the salvation that they were not able to receive through the sacrament.
1260 “Since Christ died for all, and since all men are in fact called to one and the same destiny, which is divine, we must hold that the Holy Spirit offers to all the possibility of being made partakers, in a way known to God, of the Paschal mystery.” Every man who is ignorant of the Gospel of Christ and of his Church, but seeks the truth and does the will of God in accordance with his understanding of it, can be saved. It may be supposed that such persons would have desired Baptism explicitly if they had known its necessity.
1261 As regards children who have died without Baptism, the Church can only entrust them to the mercy of God, as she does in her funeral rites for them. Indeed, the great mercy of God who desires that all men should be saved, and Jesus’ tenderness toward children which caused him to say: “Let the children come to me, do not hinder them,” allow us to hope that there is a way of salvation for children who have died without Baptism. All the more urgent is the Church’s call not to prevent little children coming to Christ through the gift of holy Baptism.



3 Responses

  1. […] 2. “Amen, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.” […]

  2. Some commentators might use Luke 23:43 to support that one of the thieves did not request Jesus to accept him in paradise to support that this verse does not demand non-Christian to ask for the Holy Spirit. Discuss.

    Prior to tackling this question, let’s meditate Matthew 27:44:

    Matthew 27:44, “The thieves also, which were crucified with him, cast the same in his teeth.”

    As the phrase, cast the same in his teeth, is mentioned in Matthew 27:44, it implies that both the thieves did sin against the Lord.

    Did one of the thieves repent from sin? Let’s meditate Luke 23:42-43 carefully below:

    Luke 23:42-43, “And he said unto Jesus, Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom. And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, To day shalt thou be with me in paradise.”

    Nothing is mentioned in Luke 23:42-43 that the thief did repent from sin and it should be there or else it would not be possible for him to inform Luke 23:42, “…Jesus (that), Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom…”

    If you would refer the word, Lord, in Luke 23:42, you would have discovered that the definition of the word, Lord, in Luke 23:42 coincides the word, Lord, in Romans 10:9 that the thief directly approached Jesus and demanded Him to take control of his life to be his Master. As the phrase, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom, is mentioned in Luke 23:42, it implies that the thief did request Jesus to accept or in other words, to receive him in paradise. Or in other words, this thief did sincerely ask Jesus to come and take control of his life to be his Master and that caused Him to mention that he Luke 23:43, “…shalt be with (Him) in paradise.”

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