How to Steal the Kingdom of God

“As a deer yearns for running streams, so my soul is longing for you, my King and my God.  My soul is thirsting for God, the living God, when shall I see Him face to face?” 

Christ in Majesty, Godescalc Evangelistary, 781-783

Our souls are longing to see the Face of Jesus Christ our King, and the good news of the Gospel tells us what we must do to inherit the Kingdom of God:

‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father.
Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.
For I was hungry and you gave me food,
I was thirsty and you gave me drink,
a stranger and you welcomed me,
naked and you clothed me,
ill and you cared for me,
in prison and you visited me.’
Then the righteous will answer him and say,
‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you,
or thirsty and give you drink?
When did we see you a stranger and welcome you,
or naked and clothe you?
When did we see you ill or in prison, and visit you?’
And the king will say to them in reply,
‘Amen, I say to you, whatever you did
for one of the least brothers of mine, you did for me.’ (Mt. 25:31-41)

To enter the Kingdom of God we must perform the works of mercy, however, there is yet another way to enter into Christ’s Kingdom; and that is to steal it! It is true–our Crucified King desires us to be with Him so much that He will even allow His Kingdom to be stolen. As Jesus was dying a shameful death on the Cross, crucified between two criminals, the crowds were shouting, “If he is the King of Israel; let him come down from the cross, and we will believe him.” One of the thieves hanging there reviled, and mocked Jesus to His Holy Face. “Are you not the Messiah? Save yourself and us!”

But the one called “the Good Thief” or “St. Dismas,” is also known as a saint of the Holy Face, because although he too was suffering on a cross, St. Dismas acknowledged his own guilt and publicly defended Jesus, rebuking the thief who had blasphemed Him, saying, “Have you no fear of God, for you are subject to the same condemnation? And indeed, we have been condemned justly, for the sentence we received corresponds to our crimes, but this man has done nothing criminal.” (Lk, 23:40-41)  What came next is a testament to heroic faith, because although the thief saw the suffering, humiliated, and disfigured Face of Jesus, he called Him a king: 

“Jesus, remember me when You come into Your Kingdom.” 

St. Ambrose wrote that the Good Thief “prayed that the Lord would remember him when he reached His Kingdom, but the Lord responded, ‘Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in paradise.’ Life is being with Christ, because where Christ is, there is His Kingdom.”  Perhaps the Good Thief had not performed the works of mercy, but his story is an witness to the saving power of faith and devotion to the Face of  Christ. The Good Thief had stolen the Kingdom through sharing in the suffering of Christ and reparation to the Holy Face of Jesus, and so entered into His divine glory.  

Thy Kingdom come, O Lord!

Christ the King of the Universe

“Every time that anyone gazes at my Face, I will pour my love into hearts and by means of the Holy Face, the salvation of many souls will be obtained.” –Our Lord to Bl. Mother Pierina de Micheli, “Missionary of the Holy Face”