Theresa Doyle-Nelson enjoys researching and writing about holy people from the Bible. She has written for a variety of Catholic resources and is the author of Saints in Scripture. Theresa and her husband Chad have been married for over 30 years, and although their nest is now empty, their three adult sons have growing families — providing enjoyable opportunities for growing gatherings and grandchildren graces! Theresa and Chad are parishioners at the beautiful and historic St. Stanislaus Catholic Church in Bandera, Texas. You can find Theresa’s blog, “The Hill Country Hermit” at TheresaDoyle-Nelson.blogspot.com.
“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.” ―Luke 23:41–42
All four of the Gospels acquaint readers with the two criminals/ revolutionaries crucified with Jesus. However, it is Luke who gives us an interesting peek into their personalities. His story has caused many believers to feel drawn to the one some early Christians named Dismas (Greek for “dying”).
Dismas became quite sobered during his crucifixion. As he considered his situation, while up on his own cross, he became awash with humility and regret. This newfound attitude seemed to spur on a new hope, trust, faith and love. After Gestas (the name given to the criminal hung on the other side of Jesus) reviled Jesus, demanding that Jesus do something about their precarious situation, it was Dismas who admonished him, who stepped in and defended Jesus. It was Dismas who reminded him that they had done wrong. They deserved their punishments. Dismas was clear in pointing out to Gestas that Jesus was an innocent man and did not deserve to be the recipient of such loathsome abuse, much less subjected to a crucifixion.
As the heart and mind of Dismas transformed, he came to know that he was next to a man of overwhelming love and power, and he decided to risk asking Jesus for an undeserved, glorious favor: that Jesus would remember him when Jesus arrived at his kingdom. Jesus’ response was striking―he promised they would be together that very day in Paradise! This phenomenal pledge probably made the pain of Dismas’s crucifixion seem less horrific, perhaps even joyful, on that traumatic day. Jesus forgiving Dismas with such ease, even though he had been a great sinner, is a wonderful sign of hope and encouragement for all.
Four Days of Bible Journaling with St. Dismas
St. Dismas is on the March 25 page of the Martyrologium Romanum — which intriguingly, is the same day as the Solemnity of the Annunciation. A compelling pair of bookend memorials on one day: a reminder of Christ’s conception and another of his death.
St. Dismas is known as the patron saint of prisoners, thieves and penitent criminals. It’s fascinating to ponder other Bible Saints who may have seen and heard Dismas speak to Jesus as they both hung upon their crosses: St. Longinus and the Holy Galilean Women are just some who likely saw this sorrowful thief and heard his striking words of faith. Below is a list of passages to read, journal about, contemplate and pray about — as a way to get to know this crucifixion saint better.
- Day 1) Matthew 27:38, 44
- Day 2) Mark 15:27, 32
- Day 3) Luke 23:33, 39–43
- Day 4) John 19:18