Rembrandt (1606-1669) The Three Crosses drypoint and burin on paper (III/IV), 1653 Amsterdam, Rijksmuseum
The other [criminal said], “We have been condemned justly, for the sentence we received corresponds to our crimes, but this man has done nothing criminal.”
Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.”
He replied to him, “Amen, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.” Luke 23:41-43
It is never too late to take responsibility for my actions, to turn to the Lord and ask for a chance to start again.
Rembrandt van Rijn (1606-1669) Jesus and the woman caught in adultery
The scribes and Pharisees brought a woman along who had been caught committing adultery. John 8:3a
I sometimes feel caught — by circumstances, others’ demands, chronic pain, or mental, emotional, physical, or spiritual distress. The sense of being trapped and in the control of unknown, antagonistic forces terrifies me.
In tiny moments of sanity, I remember to come before the Lord to ask for help and guidance. Gradually — and sometimes quickly — God’s mercy reveals the way to freedom.
Many experiences have exhausted my energy, damaged my sense of self-worth, and discouraged me from sharing my gifts and talents. I often feel like the fig tree that struggled to bear fruit.
God’s compassion is revealed through the kind people who don’t give up on me, but support me in times of trouble and help me to find the courage to keep going, to find a way to bear good, loving, peace-filled fruit.
[The gardener] said to him in reply,
‘Sir, leave [the fig tree] for this year also,
and I shall cultivate the ground around it and fertilize it;
it may bear fruit in the future.” Luke 13:8-9a
Resentment, fear, and the desire for retribution are heavy burdens. I would like to let them go, even though the pain of mistreatment goes deep.
Today I will hear and practice what the Lord asks of me: to love, bless, and pray for the people I consider my enemies and all those who have hurt me. Then may the burdens I carry be dissolved into the light of Love and Truth.
Jesus said to his disciples: “To you who hear I say, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you,
bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.” Luke 6:28
Richard Dadd (British, 1817 – 1886) Mercy: David Spareth Saul’s Life oil on canvas, 1854 Getty Center