Tag Archives: Wise Thief

St. John the Wonderworker: Tradition about the Wise Thief

Icon Wise Thief[The Wise Thief’s] whole life had been one of theft and crime. But evidently his conscience had not died, and in the depths of his hearth something good remained. Tradition even hold that he was that very thief who, during Christ’s flight into Egypt, took pity on the beautiful Baby and forbade his accomplices to kill Him when they attacked the holy family. Did he perhaps recall the face of that Child when he looked upon the face of the One hanging next to him on the Cross?Book Man of God St John Maximovitch

+ St. John the Wonderworker of Shanghai and San Francisco, “Why the Wise Thief Was Pardoned,” Man of God: Saint John of Shanghai & San Francisco

St. John Maximovitch: . . . The faith of the thief, born of his esteem for Christ’s moral greatness, proved stronger than the faith of the Apostles . . .

Crucifixion 3The Apostles wavered in their faith in Jesus as the Messiah, because they anticipated and desired to see in Him an earthly king, in whose kingdom they could sit at the right and the left hand of the Lord.

The thief understood that the Kingdom of Jesus of Nazareth, despised and given over to a shameful death, was not of this world. And it was precisely this Kingdom that the thief now sought: the gates of earthly life were closing after him; opening before him was eternity. He had settled his accounts with life on earth, and now he thought of life eternal. And here, at the threshold of eternity, he began to understand the vanity of earthly glory and earthly kingdoms. He recognized that greatness consists in righteousness, and in the righteous, blamelessly tortured Jesus he saw the King of Righteousness. The thief did not ask Him for glory in an earthly kingdom but for the salvation of his soul.

The faith of the thief, born of his esteem for Christ’s moral greatness, proved stronger than the faith of the Apostles, who although captivated by the loftiness of Christ’s teaching, based their faith to a still greater extent on the signs and wonders He wrought.

Now there was no miraculous deliverance of Christ from His enemies — and the Apostles’ faith was shaken.

But the patience He exhibited, His absolute forgiveness, and the faith that His Heavenly Father heard Him so clearly, indicated Jesus’ righteousness, His moral superiority, that one seeking spiritual and moral rebirth could not be shaken.

And this is precisely what the thief, aware of the depth of his fall, craved. He did not ask to sit at the right or the left hand of Christ in His Kingdom, but, conscious of his unworthiness, he asked in humility simply that he be remembered in His Kingdom, that he he be given even the lowest place.

+ St. John Maximovitch of Shanghai and San Franscisco, From Man of God: Saint John of Shanghai & San Francisco, “Why the Wise Thief Was Pardoned”

St. Romanos the Melodist: The Most High planted in the middle of Paradise The thrice blessed wood . . .

Icon Good Thief“The Most High planted in the middle of Paradise The thrice blessed wood, the gift of life for us, In order that, in approaching it, Adam might find eternal and immortal life, But he did not strive earnestly to know this life, And he failed to attain it, and revealed death. However, the robber, seeing how the plant in Eden Had been beautifully transplanted in Golgotha, Recognized the life in it and said to himself: `This is what my father lost formerly In Paradise.'”

+ St. Romanos the Melodist, On the Adoration at the Cross

St. Anatoly of Optina: Are you fighting against your passions? Fight, fight, and . . .

St. Anatoly of Optina“Are you fighting against your passions? Fight, fight, and be good soldiers of Christ! Do not give in to evil and do not be carried away by the weakness of the flesh. During the time of temptation, flee to the Physician, crying out with the Holy Church, our mother: “O God, number me with the thief, the harlot, and the publican (i.e., with the repentant), and save me!”

+ St. Anatoly of Optina, quoted from Living Without Hypocrisy: Spiritual Counsels of the Holy Elders of Optina

St. John Cassian: The thief who received the kingdom of heaven, though not as the reward of virtue, is a true witness to the fact that salvation . . .

Icon of St. John CassianThe thief who received the kingdom of heaven, though not as the reward of virtue, is a true witness to the fact that salvation is ours through the grace and mercy of God.

All of our holy fathers knew this and all with one accord teach that perfection in holiness can be achieved only through humility.

Humility, in its turn, can be achieved only through faith, fear of God, gentleness and the shedding of all possessions.

It is by means of these that we attain perfect love, through the grace and compassion of our Lord Jesus Christ, to whom be glory through all the ages. Amen.

+ St. John Cassian,  The Philokalia: The Complete Text (Vol. 1), “On the Eight Vices: On Pride”

St. Ambrose of Optina: . . . only an instant.

Icon of St. Ambrose of Optina“Years are not needed for true repentance, and not days, but only an instant.”

+ St. Ambrose of Optina, quoted from Living Without Hypocrisy: Spiritual Counsels of the Holy Elders of Optina

Exaposteilarian of the Matins of Holy Friday

Crucifixion“The Wise Thief didst Thou make worthy of Paradise,
in a single moment, O Lord.
By the wood of Thy Cross illumine me as well, and save me.”

Exaposteilarian of the Matins of Holy Friday