Dismas to Gestas: “Have you no fear of God?” — in praise of erudite/experienced/sagacious Logos/Rhema disciple of Jesus — Herb Alvarez

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http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saint_Dismas

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Penitent thief Dismas vs. impenitent thief Gestas

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The Penitent thief, also known as the Thief on the Cross or the Good Thief, is an unnamed character mentioned in the Gospel of Luke who was crucified alongside Jesus and asked Jesus to remember him in his kingdom, unlike his companion the Impenitent thief. He is traditionally referred to as “St. Dismas”.

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of Luke

 The narrative

Two men were crucified at the same time as Jesus, one on his right hand and one on his left (Matthew 27:38, Mark 15:27-28, Luke 23:33, John 19:18), which Mark interprets as fulfillment of the prophecy of Isaiah 53:12. According to Matthew, both of the “thieves” mocked Jesus (Matthew 27:44); Luke however, mentions that

39 Now one of the criminals hanging there reviled Jesus, saying, “Are you not the Messiah? Save yourself and us.” 40 The other, however, rebuking him, said in reply, “Have you no fear of God, for you are subject to the same condemnation? 41 And indeed, we have been condemned justly, for the sentence we received corresponds to our crimes, but this man has done nothing criminal.” 42 Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” 43 He replied to him, “Amen, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.” 23:39-43

Russian Orthodox icon of The Good Thief in Paradise (Moscow School, c. 1560).

 Today… in paradise

Main article: Paradise

The phrase translated “today… in paradise” in Luke 23:43 (“Καὶ εἶπεν αὐτῷ ὁ Ἰησοῦς· ἀμὴν λέγω σοι, σήμερον μετ᾿ ἐμοῦ ἔσῃ ἐν τῷ παραδείσῳ”[1]) is disputed in a minority of versions and commentaries. The Greek manuscripts are without punctuation, so attribution of the adverb “today” to the verb “be”, as “be in paradise today” (the majority view), or the verb “say”, as “today I say” (the minority view), is dependent on analysis of word order conventions in Koine Greek. The majority of ancient Bible translations also follow the majority view, with only the Aramaic Curetonian Gospels offering significant testimony to the minority view.[2]

Saint Thomas Aquinas: “The words of The Lord (This day….in paradise) must therefore be understood not of an earthly or corporeal paradise, but of that spiritual paradise in which all may be, said to be, who are in the enjoyment of the divine glory. Hence to place, the thief went up with Christ to heaven, that he might be with Christ, as it was said to him: “Thou shalt be with Me in Paradise”; but as to reward, he was in Paradise, for he there tasted and enjoyed the divinity of Christ, together with the other saints.”[3][4][5]

 Christian traditions

 Unnamed

Augustine of Hippo does not name the thief, but wonders if he might not have been baptized at some point.[6]

According to tradition, the Good Thief was crucified to Jesus’ right hand and the other thief was crucified to his left. For this reason, depictions of the crucifixion often show Jesus’ head inclined to his right, showing his acceptance of the Good Thief. In the Russian Orthodox Church, both crucifixes and crosses are usually made with three bars: the top one, representing the titulus (the inscription that Pontius Pilate wrote and was nailed above Jesus’ head); the longer crossbar on which Jesus’ hands were nailed; and a slanted bar at the bottom representing the footrest to which Jesus’ feet were nailed. The footrest is slanted, pointing up towards the Good Thief, and pointing down towards the other.

“Christ and the Thief” by Nikolai Ge.

According to St. John Chrysostom, the thief dwelt in the desert and robbed or murdered anyone unlucky enough to cross his path. According to Pope Saint Gregory the Great he “was guilty of blood, even his brother’s blood; (fratricide)”.[3][4][5]

The thief’s conversion is sometimes given as an example of the necessary steps one must take to arrive at salvation through Christ: awareness of personal sin, repentance of sin, acceptance of Christ and salvation’s promise of eternal life. Further, the argument is presented that baptism is not necessary for salvation since the thief had no opportunity for it.

The name Dismas

Only the Gospel of Luke describes one of the thieves as penitent, and even that gospel doesn’t name him. Luke’s unnamed penitent thief was later assigned the name Dismas in the Gospel of Nicodemus, portions of which may be dated to the 4th century. The name “Dismas” was adapted from a Greek word meaning “sunset” or “death.”[7] The other thief’s name is given as Gestas. In Jean Joseph Gaume‘s Life of the Good Thief (Histoire Du Bon Larron French 1868, English 1882), Saint Augustine said; the thief said to Jesus, the child: ” O most blessed of children, if ever a time should come when I shall crave Thy Mercy, remember me and forget not what has passed this day.”[3][4][5] Blessed Anne Catherine Emmerich saw the Holy Family “exhausted and helpless”; according to St. Augustine and St. Peter Damian, the Holy Family met Dismas, in these circumstances.[8]

The apocryphal Arabic Infancy Gospel calls the two thieves Titus and Dumachus, and adds a tale about how Titus (the good one) prevented the other thieves in his company from robbing Mary and Joseph during their Flight into Egypt.

In the Russian tradition the Good Thief’s name is “Rakh” (Russian: Рах).

Patriarch Theophilus of Alexandria (385–412) wrote a Homily on the Crucifixion and the Good Thief, which is a classic of Coptic literature.

 Canonization

The Catholic Church never formally canonized Saint Dismas, though he is regarded as a saint by virtue of Jesus saying he would be in Paradise, and by local church traditions. The feast of St. Dismas is on the 25th of March, shared with the feast of The Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

A number of towns, including San Dimas, California, are named after him. There also exist parish churches named after him, such as the Church of the Good Thief in Kingston, Ontario, Canada—built by convicts at Kingston Penitentiary, Saint Dismas Church in Waukegan, Illinois and the Church of St. Dismas, the Good Thief a Roman Catholic church at the Clinton Correctional Facility in Dannemora, New York.

Art

Icon showing Christ (center) bringing Dismas (left) into Paradise. At the right are the Gates of Paradise, guarded by a seraph (Solovetsky Monastery, 17th century).

In medieval art, St Dismas is often depicted as accompanying Jesus in the Harrowing of Hell as related in 1 Peter 3:19–20 and the Apostles’ Creed (though neither text mentions the thief).

In the Eastern Orthodox Church, one of the hymns of Good Friday is entitled, The Good Thief (or The Wise Thief, Church Slavonic: Razboinika blagorazumnago), and speaks of how Christ granted Dismas Paradise.[9] There are several compositions of this hymn[10] which are used in the Russian Orthodox Church and form one of the highlights of the Matins service on Good Friday.

In popular culture

As part of Christ’s story the good thief often appears in cinematic portrayals though with varying degrees of importance. He sometimes appears as just a background character whose presence in the film is limited to his role in the Gospel of Luke, if that much. One exception was Cecil B. Demille‘s 1927 film The King of Kings where his fate is compared to Jesus’. While in one scene people are mourning for Jesus as He is en route to Golgotha, in the next scene the very same people are throwing garbage at the two thieves. Later, when all three men are crucified, the good thief defends Jesus from Gestas‘ insults and asks to be forgiven for his own crimes. Jesus forgives the good thief. Later when the two men are dead, Mary is mourning at the foot of her Son’s cross. She notices that at the foot of the thief’s cross is a disheveled old woman crying for him. The old woman says “He was my son.” The two mothers embrace and console each other. In the 1961 film King of Kings, the two thieves, along with Barabbas, are awaiting their fates. The two thieves are appalled when Barabbas compares himself to them. They say “We’re only thieves! You’re a murderer!”.

The Penitent thief is named Jobab in the miniseries Jesus of Nazareth.

The thief features also in Christian popular music, as in Christian rock band Third Day‘s 1995 song “Thief”, and the name of the Christian rock band Dizmas. The thief also is the narrator in Sydney Carter‘s controversial song “Friday Morning”.[11]

 Prayer of The Good Thief

Prayer to Saint Dismas: Glorious Saint Dismas, you alone of all the great Penitent Saints were directly canonized by Christ Himself; you were assured of a place in Heaven with Him “this day” because of the sincere confession of your sins to Him in the tribunal of Calvary and your true sorrow for them as you hung beside Him in that open confessional; you who by the direct sword thrust of your love and repentance did open the Heart of Jesus in mercy and forgiveness even before the centurion’s spear tore it asunder; you whose face was closer to that of Jesus in His last agony, to offer Him a word of comfort, closer even than that of His Beloved Mother, Mary; you who knew so well how to pray, teach me the words to say to Him to gain pardon and the grace of perseverance; and you who are so close to Him now in Heaven, as you were during His last moments on earth, pray to Him for me that I shall never again desert Him, but that at the close of my life I may hear from Him the words He addressed to you: “This day thou shalt be with Me in Paradise.” Amen.[12]

 See also

References

  1. ^ The Four Divine and Holy Gospels with the Holy Revelation of the Evangelist John, Second Edition, ‘with the written permission of the Holy Great Church of Christ’ (meaning the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople), by the Greek typographers Phoenix, Venice, 1863 [in traditional, i.e., medieval Roman (“Byzantine”) period Greek]
  2. ^ Bruce Metzger A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament United Bible Societies 2nd Ed. 1994
  3. ^ a b c The Life of The Good Thief, Msgr. Gaume, Loreto Publications, 1868 2003.
  4. ^ a b c Catholic Family News, April 2006.
  5. ^ a b c Christian Order, April 2007.
  6. ^ Stanley E. Porter, Anthony R. Cross Dimensions of baptism: biblical and theological studies 2002 Page 264 “It is interesting to notice, in this connection, that in his Retractions, Augustine wondered whether the thief might not in fact have been baptized at some earlier point (2.18).”
  7. ^ Lawrence Cunningham A brief history of saints Page 32 2005
  8. ^ The Life of the Blessed Virgin Mary, from the Visions of Ven. Anne Catherine Emmerich, TAN Books, 1970.(No.2229)/(No.0107).
  9. ^ The text of the hymn (translated into English): “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”
  10. ^ One of the most notable versions of the hymn is Pavel Chesnokov’s Razboinika blagorazumnago (The Wise Thief)
  11. ^ Sydney Carter, obituary Daily Telegraph, March 16, 2004
  12. ^ [Source:www.catholic-forum.com Prayer to Saint Dismas]

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https://curtisnarimatsu.wordpress.com/2013/03/15/in-praise-of-herb-alvarez-from-irresistible-grace-to-irresistible-giving/

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https://curtisnarimatsu.wordpress.com/2013/03/12/in-praise-of-our-greatest-wordsmith-symbolist-herb-alvarez/

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https://curtisnarimatsu.wordpress.com/2013/03/23/in-praise-of-both-symbolist-literalist-herb-alvarez-lamp-of-faith/

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https://curtisnarimatsu.wordpress.com/2013/03/09/in-praise-of-married-couple-sista-clara-and-herb-alvarez-and-sista-claras-under-his-wings-social-ministry/

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https://curtisnarimatsu.wordpress.com/2013/04/03/in-praise-of-sistah-clara-alvarez-under-his-wings-social-ministry/

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https://curtisnarimatsu.wordpress.com/2013/03/15/in-praise-of-peacemakerproblem-solver-sista-clara-alvarez-proverbs-151-a-soft-answer-turns-away-wrath/

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Rhema (inner voice) [pronounced “ray-ma”]  & life application  –

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https://curtisnarimatsu.wordpress.com/2013/02/12/thriving-learning-having-wisdom-are-about-getting-up-each-morning-with-intention-clarity-commitment-to-seek-nurture-connection-along-lifes-healthy-healing-path-of-inner-nouris/

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http://blog.chron.com/lutherant/2012/11/global-child-poverty-changing-the-story/

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When it comes to helping people in need, one of the stories that should spark our imagination remains Jesus’ parable of the good Samaritan.  The aspect of the parable I would point out here is its personal nature.  To demonstrate how (and to whom) we ought to show compassion Jesus does not speak in generalities.  He gives a specific situation, where one individual (the Samaritan) must make a decision about how to treat another specific individual (the Jew set upon by robbers).  Christian mercy is not about generalized theories, but about specifics.

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http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rhema#Modern_usage 

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Rhema is the revealed word of God (revelation received from the Holy Spirit) when the Word/Logos is read, as an application/utterance from God to the heart of the reader via the Holy Spirit, as in John 14:26     Again, application of Scripture to this world.

“… the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.”

In this usage Rhema refers to “a word that is spoken,” when the Holy Spirit delivers a message to the heart as in Romans 10:17:

“Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ. (rhematos Christou)”

and in the Matthew 4:4:

“Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word (rhema) that comes from the mouth of God”.

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4 Responses to Dismas to Gestas: “Have you no fear of God?” — in praise of erudite/experienced/sagacious Logos/Rhema disciple of Jesus — Herb Alvarez

  1. Pingback: In praise of literalist and symbolist Herb Alvarez: John 14:6 I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. | Curtis Narimatsu

  2. Pingback: In praise of Herb Alvarez: The symbol [Scripture reading] is not the thing [prompting of the Spirit] it represents — True interpretation depends neither on historical inquiry nor on erudite literary analysis but on attentiveness to the promptings of

  3. Pingback: In praise of Herb Alvarez & the House Church phenomenon | Curtis Narimatsu

  4. Pingback: In praise of Herb Alvarez: If you are a leader, do you lead your people to the throne (throne of God — Protestant) or do you force your people into retreat (from oppressive government — e.g. Jehovah’s Witnesses)?? “Saving soulsR

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