I really found myself thinking about the plea of the Good Thief in this Sunday’s Gospel. He knows that he messed up and acknowledged that his punishment was right and just. Probably he expected to hear judgmental words from Jesus, but instead he heard something entirely unexpected: “This day you will be with Me in paradise.” Talk about a happy death!!! When I read these words, I’m find myself wondering if folks really hear them or was it in one ear and out the other with no personal recognition.
Maybe I’m wrong, but I think that people have to a large degree lost the awareness of their personal sin. They think to themselves, “Well I haven’t killed anyone” while forgetting how their words and actions (or lack of action) can kill someone’s spirits or growth in love. They think, “Well I haven’t had an affair,” while ignoring the deadly effects of an emotional affair or internet porn. We think nothing of the dangers of texting or drinking or running lights when it comes to the safety of our fellow drivers or pedestrians.
We wallow in our own problems, instead of seeking to help those who are lonely, discouraged or suffering. We break the rules routinely, yet jump all over others who do the same. We fill our silent moments with chatter, music, radio, TV or the internet because we are so afraid of that silence. After all, heaven forbid that we hear God speaking to us.
I am more prone to guard my own treasure and time instead of sacrificing it for others. Instead of practicing mercy, compassion and understanding and giving others the benefit of the doubt, I harbor grudges and want revenge. And of course, I always expect others to believe my excuses or explanations.
If all the above sounds like an examination of conscience, that’s exactly what it is. As I said, many of us have lost the consciousness of our personal sin. We know we’re not saints, yet we’re not quite ready to admit that we are a sinful person. If we can’t admit that, then how can we comprehend what it means for us to hear: “Today you will be with Me in paradise.” To be able to hear those words we must realize that we NEED to hear those words.
Love deeply, pray faithfully, laugh often!
Fr. Herb, C.S.C.