It was early in the morning. My brother and I returned home. We were tired after finishing our heavy work in the night and we sat on an old sofa.
“Mikael,” I said to my brother, “If we continue this work for some more time, we will surely become rich and all people will respect us. But I am only afraid of the Roman soldiers!”
“Joshua, do not get tensed,” said my brother after a long pause. “The art of robbery is in our blood. The Roman soldiers cannot do anything to us. Now take some rest.”
Yes! We both were robbers, criminals. We considered robbery as our holy work and God’s will for us on earth.We found joy and happiness whenever we beat others and robbed them of their valuable things. Since my brother and I knew that the world respects and honors the rich, we dreamt of becoming rich, but it was possible for us only through our holy work. We were also ready to do anything to fulfil this dream. But this dream of mine got shattered, when I saw someone…
Once, as we were roaming in a village called Galilee, we saw a huge multitude of people on a mountain. We decided to open a robbery branch there. As we were approaching the mountain, I heard a gentle voice. It said, “Store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consumes and where thieves do not break in and steal.”
I was disturbed. I thought of leaving the place. I saw my brother; he had already begun his work. I took a deep breath and moved forward. Suddenly that man’s and my eyes met. I tried to look away, but I failed. I saw something new and more precious than all the valuable things of the world in his eyes. I felt like taking it from him. So I decided to rob it. But how could I rob it from his eyes? Suddenly I became aware of the huge waves arising in the calm sea of my soul. I could not continue my work any longer. My legs started moving towards my house, with an empty hand and without saying a word to my brother. I wanted to sleep, since I could not face the turmoil within me. Even at that moment, I noticed that a new dream began to sprout in me to see that man once again, but much more than to rob it from him.
After a long time, my brother came back home with a handful of things. But he said not say a word. The next morning, he came to me and said, “Joshua, I have planned to do our holy work in the centurion’s house tonight. I am hoping to get some valuable things.”
Since my existing dream was different, I refused his invitation and said firmly, “I do not want to be rich.” Suddenly I could feel a sharp pain on my cheek. For the first time in my life, he had hit me! Who is the reason for this?
I remembered all the days that I spent with him. He had given me everything, especially filial love, since I did not see them. He was a like a God to me. Since I did not want to hurt him, I decided to join him.
At midnight as we were entering the house, unfortunately, we were caught in the web of the soldiers. There was no hope of escaping. The next day, Pilate sentenced us to be crucified on the Cross. I was frightened of death and now death on the Cross, a horrible death. Simultaneously, the dream of mine became stronger and stronger. But I decided to give up that dream.
On the eve of our crucifixion, I came to know that my brother and I were going to be crucified on the mount called the Skull, along with a Jew, named Jesus. But I did not know who this Jesus was. I thought that he must be a criminal like us.
As I was moving towards the mountain, while carrying my heavy Cross, I saw that man! But I did not expect that I will see him in this position! His garment was soaked in blood. Drops of blood and a mixture of salty sweat ran down into his eyes. A thorny crown was pinned tightly on his head. He looked helpless, thirsty and exhausted. The soldiers were mercilessly beating him. Some were laughing and some were crying for him. ‘Who is he? Why are they crucifying him? What has he done to them?’ A lot more questions entered my mind but I did not understand anything. I desired to help him to carry his Cross. Since I had my own heavy Cross, I could not do so.
After we were nailed to our Crosses, we were hoisted up from the earth. What a terrible pain it was! Cursed! All my sins came back to me in the form of a Cross and three nails. But what sins had Jesus committed? I had already given up the dream of robbing it from him.
The soldiers started to mock him, “If you are the king of the Jews save yourself and others.”
‘Is Jesus the king of the Jews?’A question arose in me. I wanted to smash all these soldiers and take Jesus far from this place, but that was impossible now.
I heard him saying, “Father forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.”
‘Who is that Father?’ another question. He started to console a man and two women, who were standing under his Cross. They were helplessly looking at what they have done to him. But I was buried in my questions. ‘Who is…’suddenly he looked at me. Our eyes met. Enough…no more questions, no more doubts. He is the son of God, Messiah, Saviour of the world and king of all kings. My heart started to fly like a bird even in that agony. What a joy in my heart!
“Are you not the Messiah?” I heard my brother’s voice, “Save yourself and us!”
I got angry with him and I said to him, “Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? And we indeed have been condemned justly, for we are getting what we deserve for our deeds, but this man has done nothing wrong.” And I looked at my Saviour and said, “Jesus remember me when you come into your kingdom.”
“Truly I tell you”, he said to me, “Today you will be with me in Paradise.”
After some time I looked at him; he had already stopped breathing.
Now I am on the cross. He is dead, but I know that he will rise again! A soldier is coming towards me to break my legs, so that I may die soon. But now I am not afraid of death. But before closing my eyes, I would like to say that I narrated my life story not only that you may believe in him but much more in his mercy! Yes, I dreamt of robbing a new and precious mercy from his eyes but to my surprise, he gave it freely to me, to a criminal! Does he not also give it to you freely? It is my desire that you may encounter his unconditional mercy which has saved me today. It is not too late for you. Look at him just as you are, at least once, so that all your sins will be wiped away and you may be filled with his unconditional mercy. Now, my hour has come…see you in the Paradise of our Saviour!
-Amith Sandeep D’souza S.J.