A Gospel Within a Gospel
On this St. Dismas Day – March 25 – special blessings to all inmates, families, staff, volunteers, our board members, donors and prayer union – everyone involved in prison life and ministry one way or the other. Read & reflect on Luke 23: 39-43, the story of our patron the good thief.
The story of Dismas has been called a “gospel within a gospel” because it condenses the ministry of Jesus into just a few hours. Dismas the good thief represents the converted rebel in all of us as he changes from reviling to revering Jesus. His example encourages us to abandon our own misery and slavery to sin for the mercy and freedom of Christ, no matter what we have done or failed to do.
Jesus the eternal judge nailed to the cross presides over all of humanity. By his death he sees to it that “…this world’s prince is driven out” (John 12:31). He silences the hellish argument that our sins are unforgivable, that there is no hope, no turning back for the likes of us. The voice of Satan the prosecutor is silenced by the verdict of Jesus as he admits a scoundrel into the kingdom at the very last minute.
The account of Dismas also reminds us of the parable in which the laborer came at the end of the day and still earned the same wage as those who entered the field early in the morning. This story of God’s freedom to act as He wills gives all of us hope.
– Ron Zeilinger, Dismas Ministry Director