Friday, April 17, 2015

His Patient Smile

One of the criminals who were hanged railed at him, saying, “Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us!” But the other rebuked him, saying, “Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? And we indeed justly, for we are receiving the due reward of our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.” And he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” And he said to him, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.” —Luke 23:43

Old John Keble writes...

Where'er Thou roam'st, one happy soul, we know,
      Seen at Thy side in woe,
   Waits on Thy triumphs—even as all the blest
      With him and Thee shall rest.
   Each on his cross; by Thee we hang a while,
      Watching Thy patient smile,
   Till we have learned to say, "'Tis justly done,
Only in glory, LORD, Thy sinful servant own."

Keble is thinking of the repentant thief, "one happy soul," hanging on his cross at Jesus' side in pain and sorrow,  awaiting Jesus' triumph. The poet sees us with him ("each and all the blest") as we "hang a while," each on our own cross, humbly accepting our suffering as "justly done," yet clinging to Jesus' promise, despite our sin: "Truly I say to you, you will be with me in Paradise."

Thus may we wear his "patient smile," humbly accepting our suffering as "justly done" and waiting a while till he receives us into glory.

David Roper

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