My Dear Sisters and Brothers! I don’t know what the Cricket players could do to redeem themselves because I am not sure whether there is willingness in the society to forgive them. However what has occurred to me from the whole situation is that the essence of our Christian faith is about having been redeemed not about redeeming ourselves. As if we could! Could the criminals on the cross redeem themselves? It was beyond them. However next to them there was someone who could do it! In the Scriptures we read: ‘Where sin increased, grace increased all the more.’ From that first Good Friday when the Lord was crucified the grace has got a name and a face: JESUS CHRIST.
The innocent Son of God was lifted up, but in fact he was drowning in the greatest misery which was gobbling down the two criminals like swamp. Jesus was suffocating surrounded by the sins of past, present and future generations but at the same time he offered a chance for all people to find support on him and not to degenerate in the abyss.
One of the first ones to find support on Jesus was Peter; the other was one of the two criminals crucified next to Jesus. They were given the grace to see their own sins in relation to Jesus. They saw that by their sins they sinned against Jesus. They were like the tax collector who praying humbly in the Temple said: ‘God, have mercy on me the sinner.’ He did not compare himself to others. He did not say: ‘God, have mercy on me a sinner’ as if he were just one of the many similar sinners. He faced the divine light of truth and from that revelation he declared himself ‘the sinner.’ The criminal on the cross owned up to his sins and it led him to Jesus in extraordinary way. In all Gospels there is only one human who called Jesus by his name. It was the criminal dying on the cross next to Jesus. In excruciating pain, filled with contempt for himself and despair he turned to Jesus like no one else did. He turned to Jesus as if they were friends for ages. In a sense the criminal discovered that God wanted that relationship with him for ages.
We call him now a good thief or a good criminal. What was good about him? It was the goodness which was poured into him by Christ himself. That last breath of Jesus was the breath giving new quality to the man and to all of us as well. Jesus breathed from the cross upon the humanity like God breathed upon the first human being. We have been given the breath of justification and redemption.
Can we be redeemed? We have been already. In a few moments when the cross is solemnly unveiled it is our yearly reminder that God is willing to forgive us our sins not because he suffers from dementia and cannot remember them but because he has chosen to forgive us. The last words of Jesus on the cross recorded by St John were: ‘It is accomplished.’
Our redemption heave been accomplished. Believe it my fellow Christians.