Archive for the ‘March 25’ Category

Feast of St. Dismas (March 25)   1 comment


Above:  Statue of St. Dismas

Image in the Public Domain



Penitent Bandit


One of the criminals hanging there taunted him:

Are you not the Messiah?  Save yourself, and us.

But the other rebuked him:

Have you no fear of God?  You are under the sentence as he is.  In our case it is plain justice; we are paying the price for our misdeeds.  But this man has done nothing wrong.

And he said,

Jesus, remember me when you come to your throne.

Jesus answered,

Truly I tell you:  today you will be with me in Paradise.

–Luke 23:39-43, The Revised English Bible (1989)


There is a fountain filled with blood

Drawn from Immanuel’s veins;

And sinners, plunged beneath that flood,

Lose all their guilty stains.


The dying thief rejoiced to see

That fountain in his day;

And there may I, though vile as he,

Wash all my sins away.

–William Cowper (1731-1800), circa 1771


March 25 is the Feast of the Annunciation.  On the Roman Catholic calendar of saints that date is also the Feast of St. Dismas.

All four of the canonical Gospels mention the two bandits (a better translation than “thieves”) crucified with Jesus.  John 19:18 reads:

…there they crucified him, and with him two others, one on either side, with Jesus in between.

The Revised English Bible (1989)

The account in the Fourth Gospel does not mention them saying anything.  Mark 15:32 and Matthew 27:44 use nearly identical wording; even the other two men crucified with Jesus “taunted” him, to quote The Revised English Bible (1989).  Luke 23:39-43, however, has one of the men rebuke the other and receive salvation from Jesus.

Why does the Gospel of Luke tell the story this way?  I respect the integrity of the Gospels of Matthew and Mark to try to make them say something they do not.  As for the Gospel of John, I conclude that the author might have simply omitted yet another detail so that he could focus on what he considered most important.  In the Gospel of Luke, however, two (at least) major aspects of the work help to explain why the text tells the story the way it does.  Doing so emphasizes the innocence of Jesus and therefore the injustice of his crucifixion.  After all, that is a theme in that Gospel.  It is also a theme in the Gospel of John, which makes it clear in 11:47-53.  Another major theme in the Gospel of Luke is reversal of fortune; there are Beatitudes and Woes, the first will be last and the last will be first, et cetera.  The case of the penitent bandit finding salvation fits nicely into that theme.

The story of the two crucified bandits has fascinated figures in Christianity since the early decades of the faith.  Tradition has provided them with various names; Dismas and Gestus seem to have had much staying power.  Thus the name on this post is Dismas.

I will not pretend to have concluded that the Lukan account is historically accurate and that the story in the Gospels of Mark and Matthew is not; biblical inerrancy and infallibility are not part of my theology anyway.  I am comfortable living with texts that occupy space in the Bible and contradict each other.  I am, however, certain of one conclusion regarding Luke 23:39-43:  we can learn a valuable spiritual lesson from it.  Many (or most) or us (including me) are too quick (at least some of the time) to write certain people off as being beyond redemption.  We ought to admit that God knows better than we do.  We should acknowledge that such matters are in the purview of God, in whom both mercy and judgment exist, and whose mercy frequently exceeds ours.


God of grace, we thank you for saving live that beckons us pursues us all the days of our lives.

May we welcome it with joy and live, redeemed by grace,  as children of the light.

May we rejoice with others who have accepted your grace and

hold out hope for the seemingly irredeemable to come to you.

In the Name of God:  the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

Joshua 6:22-25

Psalm 23

2 Corinthians 5:11-6:2

Luke 23:39-43






Posted January 26, 2017 by neatnik2009 in March 25, Saints of the Bible

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Sunday of the Passion: Palm Sunday, Year B   Leave a comment

Above:  Triumphal Entry of Jesus into Jerusalem


MARCH 25, 2018



At the Liturgy of the Palms:

Mark 11:1-11 or John 12:12-16

Psalm 118:1-2, 19-29

At the Liturgy of the Word:

Isaiah 50:4-9a

Psalm 31:9-16

Philippians 2:5-11

Mark 14:1-15:47 or Mark 15:1-39, (40-47)

The Collect:

Almighty and everliving God, in your tender love for the human race you sent your Son our Savior Jesus Christ to take upon him our nature, and to suffer death upon the cross, giving us the example of his great humility: Mercifully grant that we may walk in the way of his suffering, and also share in his resurrection; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.


Some Related Posts:

Sunday of the Passion:  Palm Sunday, Year A:

Sunday of the Passion:  Palm Sunday, Year B:


Palm Sunday is liturgically unusual.  It sits at the beginning of Holy Week yet summarizes said week.  During the rest of the week one reads of various events ranging from the cleansing of the Temple to the Last Supper to the crucifixion to the interment in the tomb.  So there is much redundancy in the full observance of Holy Week.  The designers of the Revised Common Lectionary seem to have arranged the readings for Palm Sunday so that one can skip the intervening days and proceed directly to Easter Sunday.

Historical scholarship reveals the presence of a variety of expectations as to what a Messiah would do and how he would do it at the time of Jesus.  Some Jews did not even expect a Messiah.  But many Jews looked for a national liberator, for they lived under occupation.  Passover, the annual celebration of the deliverance of the Hebrews from slavery in Egypt brought many pilgrims to Jerusalem, raised the political stakes, and made Rome nervous.  If someone were to begin a revolution, he might do it at Passover.

What did the cheering crowds expect of Jesus?  What did the Roman guards think as they watched the Triumphal Entry?  For that matter, what do we ant Jesus to be and fear that he might be?  If Jesus does not match our expectations, the problem lies within us, not him.  If there is a misunderstanding, we are confused party.



Published in a nearly identical form at LENTEN AND EASTER DEVOTIONS BY KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR on July 28, 2011

Posted July 28, 2011 by neatnik2009 in March 25, Revised Common Lectionary Year B

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Saints’ Days and Holy Days for March   Leave a comment


Image Source = Bertil Videt

1 (Anna of Oxenhall and Her Faithful Descendants, Wenna the Queen, Non, Samson of Dol, Cybi, and David of Wales)

  • Daniel March, Sr., U.S. Congregationalist and Presbyterian Minister, Poet, Hymn Writer, and Liturgist
  • Edwin Hodder, English Biographer, Devotional Writer, and Hymn Writer
  • Roger Lefort, Roman Catholic Archbishop of Bourges

2 (Shabbaz Bhatti and Other Christian Martyrs of the Islamic World)

  • Aidan of Lindisfarne, Celtic Missionary Bishop; Caelin, Celtic Priest; St. Cedd of Lastingham, Celtic and Roman Catholic Priest, Bishop of Essex, and Abbot of Lastingham; Cynibil of Lastingham, Celtic and Roman Catholic Priest and Monk; Chad of Mercia, Celtic and Roman Catholic Priest, Abbot of Lastingham, Bishop of York/the Northumbrians and of Lichfield/the Mercians and the Lindsey People; Vitalian, Bishop of Rome; Adrian of Canterbury, Roman Catholic Abbot of Ss. Peter and Paul, Canterbury; Theodore of Tarsus, Roman Catholic Monk and Archbishop of Canterbury; and Cuthbert of Lindisfarne, Celtic and Roman Catholic Monk, Hermit, Priest, and Bishop of Lindisfarne
  • John Stuart Blackie, Scottish Presbyterian Scholar, Linguist, Poet, Theologian, and Hymn Writer
  • Ludmilla of Bohemia, Duchess of Bohemia and Martyr; Her Grandson, Wenceslaus I, Duke of Bohemia and Martyr; Agnes of Prague, Bohemian Princess and Nun; Pen Pal of Clare of Assisi, Foundress of the Poor Clares; Sister of Agnes of Assisi, Abbot at Monticelli; Daughter of Hortulana of Assisi, Poor Clare Nun

3 (Katharine Drexel, Founder of the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament)

  • Antonio Francesco Marzorati, Johannes Laurentius Weiss, and Michele Pro Fasoli, Franscican Missionary Priests and Martyrs in Ethiopia, 1716
  • Gervinus, Roman Catholic Abbot and Scholar
  • Henry Elias Fries, U.S. Moravian Industrialist; and His Wife, Rosa Elvira Fries, U.S. Moravian Musician

4 (Charles Simeon, Anglican Priest and Promoter of Missions; Henry Martyn, Anglican Priest, Linguist, Translator, and Missionary; and Abdul Masih, Indian Convert and Missionary)

  • John Edgar Park, U.S. Presbyterian then Congregationalist Minister and Hymn Writer
  • Paul Cuffee, U.S. Presbyterian Missionary to the Shinnecock Nation
  • Thomas Hornblower Gill, English Unitarian then Anglican Hymn Writer

5 (Karl Rahner, Jesuit Priest and Theologian)

  • Christopher Macassoli of Vigevano, Franciscan Priest
  • Eusebius of Cremona, Roman Catholic Abbot and Humanitarian
  • Ion Costist, Franciscan Lay Brother

6 (Martin Niemoller, German Lutheran Minister and Peace Activist)

  • Chrodegang of Metz, Roman Catholic Bishop
  • Jordan of Pisa, Dominican Evangelist
  • William Bright, Anglican Canon, Scholar, and Hymn Writer

7 (James Hewitt McGown, Humanitarian)

  • Drausinus and Ansericus, Roman Catholic Bishops of Soissons; Vindician, Roman Catholic Bishop of Cambrai; and Leodegarius, Roman Catholic Bishop of Autun
  • Edward Osler, English Doctor, Editor, and Poet
  • Perpetua, Felicity, and Their Companions, Martyrs at Carthage, 203

8 (Edward King, Bishop of Lincoln)

  • Geoffrey Studdert Kennedy, Anglican Priest and Hymn Writer
  • John Hampden Gurney, Anglican Priest and Hymn Writer
  • John of God, Founder of the Brothers Hospitallers of Saint John of God

9 (Sophronius of Jerusalem, Roman Catholic Patriarch)

  • Emanuel Cronenwett, U.S. Lutheran Minister, Hymn Writer, and Hymn Translator
  • Frances of Rome, Foundress of the Collatines
  • Robert Hall Baynes, Anglican Bishop of Madagascar

10 (Marie-Joseph Lagrange, Roman Catholic Priest and Biblical Scholar)

  • Agripinnus of Autun, Roman Catholic Bishop; Germanus of Paris, Roman Catholic Bishop; and Droctoveus of Autun, Roman Catholic Abbot
  • John Oglivie, Roman Catholic Priest and Martyr
  • Macarius of Jerusalem, Roman Catholic Bishop

11 (John Swertner, Dutch-German Moravian Minister, Hymn Writer, Hymn Translator, and Hymnal Editor; and his collaborator, John Mueller, German-English Moravian Minister, Hymn Writer, and Hymnal Editor)

  • Aengus the Culdee, Hermit and Monk; and Maelruan, Abbot
  • Eulogius of Spain, Roman Catholic Bishop of Toledo, Cordoba; and Leocrita; Martyrs
  • Folliot Sandford Pierpoint, Anglican Educator, Poet, and Hymn Writer

12 (Trasilla and Emiliana, Sisters-in-Law of Sylvia of Rome; and Her Son, Gregory I “the Great,” Bishop of Rome)

  • Maximillian of Treveste, Roman Conscientious Objector
  • Rutilio Grande, Roman Catholic Priest and Martyr
  • Theophanes the Chroncler, Defender of Icons

13 (Yves Congar, Roman Catholic Priest and Theologian)

  • Heldrad, Roman Catholic Abbot
  • Plato of Symboleon and Theodore Studites, Eastern Orthodox Abbots, and Nicephorus of Constantinople, Patriarch
  • Roderic of Cabra and Solomon of Cordoba, Roman Catholic Martyrs

14 (Fannie Lou Hamer, Prophet of Freedom)

  • Alfred Lister Peace, Organist in England and Scotland
  • Harriet King Osgood Munger, U.S. Congregationalist Hymn Writer
  • Nehemiah Goreh, Indian Anglican Priest and Theologian

15 (Zachary of Rome, Pope)

  • Jan Adalbert Balicki and Ladislaus Findysz, Roman Catholic Priests in Poland
  • Ozora Stearns Davis, U.S. Congregationalist Minister, Theologian, and Hymn Writer
  • Vethappan Solomon, Apostle to the Nicobar Islands

16 (Adalbald of Ostevant, Rictrudis of Marchiennes, and Their Relations)

  • Abraham Kidunaia, Roman Catholic Hermit, and Mary of Edessa, Roman Catholic Anchoress
  • John Cacciafronte, Roman Catholic Monk, Abbot, Bishop, and Martyr
  • Megingaud of Wurzburg, Roman Catholic Monk and Bishop

17 (Patrick, Apostle of Ireland)

  • Ebenezer Elliott, “The Corn Law Rhymer”
  • Eliza Sibbald Alderson, Poet and Hymn Writer; and John Bacchus Dykes, Anglican Priest and Hymn Writer
  • Henry Scott Holland, Anglican Hymn Writer and Priest

18 (Leonides of Alexandria, Roman Catholic Martyr; Origen, Roman Catholic Theologian; Demetrius of Alexandria, Roman Catholic Bishop; and Alexander of Jerusalem, Roman Catholic Bishop)

  • Cyril of Jerusalem, Bishop, Theologian, and Liturgist
  • Paul of Cyprus, Eastern Orthodox Martyr
  • Robert Walmsley, English Congregationalist Hymn Writer


20 (Sebastian Castellio, Prophet of Religious Liberty)

  • Christopher Wordsworth, Hymn Writer and Anglican Bishop of Lincoln
  • Maria Josefa Sancho de Guerra, Foundress of the Congregation of the Servants of Jesus
  • Samuel Rodigast, German Lutheran Academic and Hymn Writer

21 (Johann Sebastian Bach, Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach, and Johann Christian Bach, Composers)

  • Nicholas of Flüe and His Grandson, Conrad Scheuber, Swiss Hermits
  • Serapion of Thmuis, Roman Catholic Bishop
  • William Edward Hickson, English Music Educator and Social Reformer

22 (Deogratias, Roman Catholic Bishop of Carthage)

  • Emmanuel Mournier, Personalist Philosopher
  • James De Koven, Episcopal Priest
  • Thomas Hughes, British Social Reformer and Member of Parliament

23 (Gregory the Illuminator and Isaac the Great, Patriarchs of Armenia)

  • Meister Eckhart, Roman Catholic Theologian and Mystic
  • Metodej Dominik Trčka, Roman Catholic Priest and Martyr
  • Victorian of Hadrumetum, Martyr at Carthage, 484

24 (Oscar Romero, Roman Catholic Archbishop of San Salvador; and the Martyrs of El Salvador)

  • Didacus Joseph of Cadiz, Capuchin Friar
  • Paul Couturier, Apostle of Christian Unity
  • Thomas Attwood, “Father of Modern Church Music”


  • Dismas, Penitent Bandit

26 (Harriet Tubman, Abolitionist)

  • George Rundle Prynne, Anglican Priest, Poet, and Hymn Writer
  • Ludger, Roman Catholic Bishop of Munster
  • Margaret Clitherow, Roman Catholic Martyr in England

27 (James Solomon Russell, Episcopal Priest, Educator, and Advocate for Racial Equality)

  • Charles Henry Brent, Episcopal Bishop and Ecumenist
  • Nicholas Owen, Thomas Garnet, Mark Barkworth, Edward Oldcorne, and Ralph Ashley, Roman Catholic Martyrs
  • Rupert of Salzburg, Apostle of Bavaria and Austria

28 (Tutilo, Roman Catholic Monk and Composer)

  • Guntram of Burgundy, King
  • Katharine Lee Bates, U.S. Educator, Poet, and Hymn Writer
  • Richard Chevenix Trench, Anglican Archbishop of Dublin

29 (Charles Villiers Stanford, Composer, Organist, and Conductor)

  • Dora Greenwell, Poet and Devotional Writer
  • John Keble, Anglican Priest and Poet
  • Jonas and Barachisius, Roman Catholic Martyrs

30 (Innocent of Alaska, Equal to the Apostles and Enlightener of North America)

  • Franz Joseph Haydn and His Brother, Michael Haydn, Composers
  • Joan of Toulouse, Carmelite Nun; and Simon Stock, Carmelite Friar
  • John Wright Buckham, U.S. Congregationalist Minister, Theologian, and Hymn Writer

31 (Maria Skobtsova, Orthodox Martyr)

  • Ernest Trice Thompson, U.S. Presbyterian Minister and Renewer of the Church
  • John Donne, Anglican Priest and Poet
  • John Marriott, Anglican Priest and Hymn Writer


Lowercase boldface on a date with two or more commemorations indicates a primary feast.


Feast of the Annunciation of Our Lord (March 25)   2 comments

Above: The Annunciation, by Leonardo da Vinci

Image in the Public Domain

Theology, Not History–But That Is Okay


The Assigned Readings for This Feast:

Isaiah 7:10-14

Psalm 45 or Psalm 40:5-11 or Canticle 3 or 15 from the 1979 Book of Common Prayer

Hebrews 10:4-10

Luke 1:26-38

The Collect:

Pour your grace into our hearts, O Lord, that we who have known the incarnation of your Son Jesus Christ, announced by an angel to Mary, may by his cross and passion be brought to the glory of his resurrection; who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.


Standard Christian theology states that Jesus was fully human and fully divine.  I accept this proposition as an article of faith.  The Feast of the Annunciation of Our Lord emphasizes this doctrine.

Yet it does so in a method which seems entirely theological and ahistorical to me.  This does not bother me, however, for the theology is true.  Follow my logic:  March 25 was a traditional date for God’s creation of the universe during the early Christian era.  Thus it made theological sense, from a certain point of view, to place the Annunciation on this date.  This emphasized the divinity of Jesus.  And assuming a gestation period of exactly nine months emphasized the perfection of Jesus.  Thus we have the birth date of December 25.  And the presence of a human mother made the point that Jesus was fully human.

I know neither the conception nor the birth date of Jesus.  I doubt however, that they were March 25 and December 25, respectively.  But that is irrelevant, for the theology behind these dates points to greater truths.  That suffices for me.


JUNE 12, 2010



Revised on December 24, 2016


Posted June 12, 2010 by neatnik2009 in March 25

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