Hidden away in the list of saints commemorated on March 25th is the name ‘St Dismas, the Good Thief.’ Poor Dismas, the name usually given to thief crucified with Our Lord, is especially forgotten on the day as it is also the Feast of the Annunciation. There is a connection. Traditionally Christians believed the date of the crucifixion was March 25th. It was believed that from conception to death Jesus lived a life of ‘complete’ years. Consequently on the same date that the angel came to Mary he, and Dismas, died.
Let’s give Dismas a remembrance! St Luke writes:
One of the criminals who were hanged there kept deriding him and saying, ‘Are you not the Messiah? Save yourself and us!’ But 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.’ He replied, ‘Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in Paradise.’
Looking at the crucified Christ, Dismas speaks with honesty and turns to Christ with a simple prayer. A prayer which we often echo when we sing the Taize chant ‘Jesus remember me’.
Our Orthodox friends often use this prayer, before receiving Communion:
Of Thy Mystical Supper, O Son of God, accept me today as a communicant; for I will not speak of Thy Mystery to Thine enemies, neither like Judas will I give Thee a kiss; but like the thief will I confess Thee: Of Thy Mystical Supper, O Son of God, accept me today as a communicant; for I will not speak of Thy Mystery to Thine enemies, neither like Judas will I give Thee a kiss; but like the thief will I confess Thee: Remember me, O Lord in Thy Kingdom.
As Lent moves on we turn more to the cross. May we like St Dismas, look to the crucified Lord and pray: Remember me, Lord in Thy Kingdom.