“And he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” And Jesus said to him, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.” The Gospel of Luke
It is worth note, that for all of its use in literature, art, and discourse throughout history, the only time Jesus says the word “paradise” in the bible is when speaking to the criminal on the cross. For me, it gives the word a much deeper and more poignant meaning.
At the beginning of our Lenten discussion, Dad asked us what it would take for to be able to say “all in well.” Depending on your definition of the word, we might also take this to mean “what would it take for you to be in paradise?” Dad used that word yesterday to describe his feelings in the precsensne of his assembled daughters. He probably should have also added that it was NCAA tourney time as well and he could always flee upstairs tot he TV when things got to “Oprah” in the living room. History has defined “paradise” as two distinct places. The Paradise of the garden of Eden and the Paradise of Heaven.
But maybe Paradise isn’t just a place. Perhaps we can achieve that paradise on earth as well. Jesus told the criminal on the cross that today he would join him in paradise. Is it possible that what Jesus meant was that by achieving that communion with him, by coming that close to God and asking for his help, saying “remember me.” That this was how the criminal joined Jesus in Paradise. Is merely being that close to God the way to find paradise on earth?
I, of course, have no answer at all to any of this, but it is worth mediating on. How can I come that close to God? Has God already shown me a path to paradise? Maybe it’s in the asking not the answer? Jesus isn’t just speaking to the criminal on the cross, but to all of us who ask him to “remember me.”