• Sarah Raad


If we make ourselves into the GOOD Thief and not the BAD Thief, we can do such great good and one day, we will be with Him in Paradise…

Jesus and the Good Thief (Gaudenzio Ferrari)

Easter Sunday. Hosana. He is Risen. What a miracle! Christ is risen.

And yet, during this time of miracles. During this period of revelation… I pray most fervently for the poor, for the suffering, and particularly for those who grieve.

On this glorious day of Resurrection, my prayers and thoughts turn most determinedly to the widows and the widowers, the parents of children gone before them and the children left behind by their parents. During this season of celebration and GLORY, I pray for the siblings and aunts and uncles left behind. While my heart turns to the RISEN LORD, my soul cries out for all those who grieve – for they are for whom He rose!

For though today is a day of DIVINE GLORY, only a few short days ago, Christ’s suffering was MUNDANELY HUMAN.

The Gospel on Holy Tuesday remains firmly fixed in my mind (John 13:21-33,36-38). During that Gospel, Christ predicts His betrayal by His beloved disciples. What anguish He must have experienced. All His work, all the efforts of His Divine and Human enterprise appeared to be lost. The very thing for which He had entered Time and Space appeared to be a complete and utter dismal failure. What a terrible disappointment to Christ, in that moment, after the sacred action of the Institution of the Blessed Eucharist.

How infinitely human was my Beloved in that moment. How I long to comfort Him there at that table, drinking the wine and eating the bread with His friends, who understood Him not at all. How He must have felt no desire to eat and drink and how he must have continued on anyway for their sakes – for mine.

How I wish I could have gone to Him and laid my head upon His lap and said to Him, “My Beloved, my Beloved, do not be afraid. You have done great things for us! I see that you are the light of the world. Please do not be disappointed in us. Please forgive our stupidity. Please forgive our sin!”

Does Christ – PERFECT GOD of all the Universe – need my paltry words of comfort? NO… God needs nothing from me. He is infinitely complete and absolute without me.

But, perhaps the better question to ask is whether Christ – PERFECT MAN – could find some small comfort in my paltry words?… YES… For though He needs nothing from me – He loves me even unto Death – and for that I will offer Him all the small comfort that I can muster within my tiny, sinful soul…

As I pray for those who grieve – particularly for the widows and widowers, and those who grieve the loss of their relationship through separation or divorce – I see some purpose in their suffering.

Purification is only possible through suffering. In those chosen few, I see the Good Thief – if they choose to embrace that vocation – and they do much good!

I see a people who turn to Christ and see His Light and, who like the Good Thief on his cross, beg Him to take them into Paradise.

For it was not the greatest Saint who FIRST entered into Paradise with Christ that day… It was not Saint John the Baptist, or Saint Joseph His Foster Father. It was not the apostles, disciples, Mary Magdalene or His Blessed Mother. Christ tells us on the Cross... it was a THIEF…

The first person to enter into Paradise with Christ that day was the greatest repentant sinner – a man who admitted that his execution was just under the law – the Good Thief.

And so, reflecting on this, I pray that for those of us who grieve, that they receive the GRACE to understand that Christ promised Paradise to the Good Thief. And the GRACE to understand that though THEY are the Good Thief, it is NOT them who enters into PARADISE on THIS DAY… it is the SOULS for whom they grieve.

Perhaps this great sorrow that we feel for those we have lost, can be offered not for our sanctification – but for THEIRS…

Perhaps we can be the Good Thief FOR them and PRAY them out of Purgatory if that is where they are. And if they are already in Heaven, we must not fear to pray for their salvation, for God is infinitely JUST and merciful and He will redirect our prayers BACK to the souls left behind in Purgatory!

Perhaps then, they shall see the truth in the words of the Beautiful Saint Padre Pio… “Jesus wants you to know that the spiritual sufferings that are causing you so much agitation are sent by Him directly in order to test and not to punish you. They are intended to purify you more fully and make you as far as possible similar to Himself who is the prototype of every soul that has chosen the excellent path of divine service.”

And what could be more similar to Christ, than enduring the constant mundanely human disappointments of apparent failure to complete the divine service of suffering for the salvation of souls?

For with sorrow and prayer, I stand on Holy Ground where everything is clear. Here. At the Foot of the Cross.

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