The Line Between

If only it were all so simple. If only there were evil people somewhere insidiously committing evil deeds, and it were necessary only to separate them from the rest of us and destroy them. But the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being. And who is willing to destroy a piece of his own heart?

— Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn (The Gulag Archipelago)

Jesus was crucified between two prisoners, two thieves. Did he encounter them while awaiting sentencing? Did they see him? They did hear him speak on the Cross.

Luke 23: 39-43 says: One of the criminals hanging there taunted Jesus, saying, “Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us!” But the other rebuked him, “Have you no fear of God, since you are under the same sentence? In our case, we have been condemned justly, for we are getting what we deserve for our deeds. But this man has committed no wrong.” Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” Jesus said to him, “Amen, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.”

Jesus hangs on that line between light and darkness, the divide running through all men. There is a prayer that reads: “In the midst of two thieves, Your Cross was revealed as the balance-beam of righteousness; for while the one was led to hell by the burden of his blaspheming, the other was lightened of his sins to the knowledge of things divine.” By the Cross we were delivered from the power of sin and darkness. It is for us to choose moment by moment which way to lean, toward Christ the Life or away from him into ourselves. The worst sinner need not despair; Christ died for both in his great love for mankind.

Do not despair; one of the thieves was saved. Do not presume; one of the thieves was damned.

— St. Augustine

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