From a sonnet cycle, based on the seven sayings of the cross.
But the other criminal rebuked him. “Don’t you fear God,” he said, “since you are under the same sentence? We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.” Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” Jesus answered him, “I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise.”
Two thieves also climbed the rocky hill,
and were I one, I know what I would pray:
“Save yourself, and when you do, save me.”
Consequences are the hardest debts I pay.
“But we are getting what our deeds deserve”—
that’s what the other malefactor knew:
“Unlike us, this man has done no wrong,”
he said, knowing and believing it was true.
Yet recognizing right was not enough,
was not the ground of his, or my, reward;
He did what I have often failed to do:
He looked ahead, and recognized the Lord.
That I must do to hear the master say,
“You will be in paradise with me. Today.”
©2001, Wally Metts