Last year, for the middle hour of our Three Hours at the Cross on Good Friday, I wrote meditations (of decreasing length) on the Seven Last Words of Jesus – scriptures relating to his final moments, often used in more catholic traditions. I posted the first ‘Father forgive them, they do not know what they are doing’ after Easter, but didn’t post the rest. This year, it has been suggested that I gradually blog the full set. If you would like to use them, please do, with appropriate credit. If you could say where you’re using it, please use the comment facility.
So here, is the second:
“Today, you will be with me in Paradise.”
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.” (Luke 23:39-43)
I had no wish to be remembered.
My life’s been hidden in the shadows,
my home the streets and alleys of violence,
the places so busy, no-one sees,
so deserted, no-one looks.
When I’ve gone inside,
I’ve either been the unwelcome guest,
or my residency enforced,
rested from my freedom
by the shackles of incompetence.
That loud-mouth mocker,
full of self-importance,
oblivious to his own shallowness,
blind to the justice of his sentence,
thinks he’s the king of the hard-done by.
In fact he’s the pauper of a quick buck,
a shady deal badly implemented,
just another bankrupt of a society
sold-out to the corruption
of it’s own ego.
I’m pinned up here,
by the self-made sinews
of my own crimes,
the weight of my cross
purely the burden of my past.
My felonies, too numerous to see,
my sickness, visible only to me,
this paradise of pain a justice
to those I’ve fleeced of peace of mind,
cheated of a future.
We’re pegged up next to perfection,
a man whose assumed double-talk,
lies merely in the anguish of his love,
the smell of his compassion,
the authority of his mute acceptance.
Even the mocker detects the difference,
feels shaded from the lime-light,
yet recognises innocence,
if only in the hope of gain;
a prince of crass conversion.
It had to be acknowledged;
my empty nothingness,
stark contrast to his humility;
his a power that won’t be discontinued,
sold-out to by ignorance and death.
My faith, sparked by unworthiness,
suddenly cried out to be recognised,
to be remembered,
significant to me at least,
despite it’s necessarily short-lived illumination.
No fuel required, nothing temporised,
here in excruciating death,
he gratuitously shared out life,
his kingdom not of the humanity to which he’d stooped,
but the throne of the creator.
This last decision of my rotten existence,
the best by far, never to be regretted;
a happy torture to encounter freedom,
liberation from my delinquency,
and the promise of paradise.