The Sinner’s Prayer

[Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” [Some manuscripts read: “…come with your kingly power.”] -Luke 23:42[The Penitent Thief, also known as the Good Thief, Grateful Thief or the Thief on the Cross, is one of two unnamed thieves in Luke’s account of the crucifixion of Jesus in the New Testament. The Gospel of Luke describes him asking Jesus to “remember him” when Jesus arrives at his kingdom. … He is officially venerated in the Catholic Church. The Roman Martyrology places his commemoration on 25 March, together with the Feast of the Annunciation, because of the ancient Christian tradition that Christ (and the penitent thief) were crucified and died exactly on the anniversary of Christ’s incarnation.

He is given the name Dismas in the Gospel of Nicodemus and is traditionally known in Catholicism as Saint Dismas (sometimes Dysmas; in Spanish and Portuguese, Dimas). – WIKI]]

Dismas, part of a thieving band—
But evil never goes as planned—
Bought himself a roman cross
His evil ways his albatross.

But next to him there chanced to hang
No member of his roving gang;
By providential thought and care
The Savior of the world was there!

How long before he realized
That there in death before his eyes
The king of Jewry—they called Him then—
Was dying for the souls of men?

And what might be the likelihood
That those around had understood
What God was doing in that hour;
They witnessed then that awesome power

Which caused the earth to quake apart
Then all around the darkest dark
Eclipsed the faithful noonday light!
And Dismas witnessed such a sight!

[Sometimes the greatest suffering
Belies the moment of the thing.
This journey on a road that ends
Must come to where real life begins.

Our cross becomes a sacrifice,
An opened door to Paradise.
A sacred place, a house of prayer
For all the while our Lord is there.]

Another thief who hanged beside
Thought perhaps, before they died
The Lord might rescue from this fate
Before in death it was too late.

But Dismas had a another sense
Surmising Jesus’ innocence
“Our fate,” he fessed, “is ours for sure
But something else is happening here!”

He heard that Jesus was a king.
But who would guess of such a thing!?
His kingdom, ‘cross some distant sea?
And He now dying on a tree!?

Dismas mused that just in case
Jesus’ kingdom is a place
(Though now for him, he must believe,
There was no hope and no reprieve.)

That he might ask for nothing more
Before he died (he might implore,
Perhaps on just a thought or whim)
That Jesus might remember him.

Did Dismas hear the Savior cry
“Forgive them, Father. So have I!”
And what about the “sinner’s prayer”
That Dismas spoke suspended there?

No lofty terms, no thought out verse
No opportunity to rehearse
No dogmatized theology
He only asked “Remember me?”

I think there is no humbler tone,
Nor contrite heart before God’s throne
Than he who asks the diadem
In kindness to remember them.

And Jesus promised mercifully
“Today, dear friend, you’ll be with me.”

“No better words,” I say, “is there
That we might call, ‘The Sinner’s Prayer.’”

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