I'm speaking today at that beautiful, historic little church on the Upper West Side - West End Collegiate - that I told you about, little sweetheart. I was asked to write a reflection on the second of Christ's Last Seven Utterances. It's today, Good Friday, at noon. Here's what I wrote:
"Then one of the criminals hanging there threw insults at Him, saying, “Aren’t you the Messiah? Save Yourself and us.” But the other, answering, rebuked him, saying, “Do you not even fear God, seeing you are under the same condemnation? And we indeed justly, for we receive the due reward of our deeds; but this Man - he has done no wrong.” And then he said to Jesus, “Lord, remember me when You come into Your kingdom.” And Jesus said to him, “Assuredly, I tell you this: today you will be with Me in Paradise.” Luke 23, 39-43
“Today" Christ says, "you shall be with me in paradise". Can it be sooner, I wonder?
I lost the love of my life - my soulmate, my partner, my little sweetheart, Summer was her name - after a tragic accident. The bitter anniversary of her passing was just last week. I believe I was born to love her to have been found by her. I'm lost without her.
Love. It's the greatest gift God has given us. Corinthians tells us - there are three things that last: Faith, Hope and Love. But the greatest of these is Love. Love is like the wind. It can't be touched or seen or weighed and yet we feel it touch us, we see it in ourselves and others, it grounds us like gravity itself. Love is more than God’s gift to us, love is the very proof of his existence, love is God himself, love is how he manifests himself in our shattered lives.
I miss my girl. I long for her. How I yearn to be returned to her, soon and forever. But I sense her. Feel her with me, feel love, deep and eternal whenever I act in kindness, in truth, with gentleness and generosity in my heart.
When the condemned man speaks up for Jesus, for the injustice of it, crying out that Jesus has done nothing wrong, surely love - God’s greatest gift to us is in his heart in that terrible and terrifying moment. Surely Jesus sees this in the man as they hang together there.
Today you will be in paradise. Can it be any sooner? It is. It is.