Quick Thoughts on Today's Gospel
In Luke's account of the Passion, Jesus asks his disciples to pray that they may not undergo the test just before He himself prays that the cup might pass from him. In a sense, was he asking them to pray for the same thing? For they would undergo the test, the cup of martyrdom, just as he did - but perhaps only if he did.
We also see the amazing juxtaposition of St. Peter, who knew Jesus intimately, denying him, while a thief, who presumably had never met Jesus and only heard of him secondhand, had the faith to say, "Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom." It's almost as if we cradle Catholics, who like St. Peter have been given so much, are the born underdogs in the Faith, at least if you look at the Scriptural accounts of the Samaritan woman, the Roman soldier and Dismas, all of whom were Gentiles or non-Jews and all of whom were singled out for the greatest praise from the Lord. (Reminds me of Culbreath's interesting opinion: "Protestantism, historically, is better at elevating the morals and behavior of the masses. Catholicism, on the other hand, is better at making saints. Unfortunately it seems to be a trade off.")
You could also say the thief had less to lose than Peter; after all, he was dying and Peter still had plenty of life to go, which speaks to that necessity of being able to give up everything for God and reminds me of Flannery O'Connor's famous line: "She could never be a saint, but she thought she could be a martyr if they killed her quick."