All that is known of Dismas is that he is the Good Thief crucified with Christ on Calvary. The other thief is known as Gestas. Dismas enjoyed great popularity in the West during the Middle Ages. The two thieves held up the Holy Family on the way to Egypt. Dismas bought off Gestas with forty drachmas to leave the family unmolested. The infant Jesus predicted that the two thieves would be crucified with Him in Jerusalem and that Dismas would accompany Him to Paradise.
Dismas has spent his life being a thief and running with a bad crowd. He is a sinner when he encounters the Holy Family and when he is crucified alongside Jesus. Grace is acting on him when they encounter the Holy Family because he does not want to harm them. He even goes as far as paying off his partner in crime to advert his hostility towards the poor family. This sinner is not doing what sinners normally do. I wonder if Gestas took the bribe because he was confounded by his associate. God has stepped into his life and changed him. Without a better crowd to run with, Dismas’ seed of faith will be choked by the thorns of the world.
Fast forward thirty years, Dismas’ seed of faith blossoms as he is recognizing Jesus’ divinity in His passion. Dismas is professing his assent to faith in Jesus. This was an important profession of faith in the early church. The penitent sinner receives salvation through the crucified Jesus. It is important for us today as well because Jesus’ words to the penitent thief show that the destiny of the Christian is “to be with Jesus.” We all have available to us salvation by faith in Jesus. We all have a common destiny to be with Jesus forever.