Monday, March 29, 2010

The Seven Last Words: With me in Paradise

Amen dico tibi hodie mecum eris in Paradiso

Ἀμήν σοι λέγω, σήμερον μετ' ἐμοῦ ἔσῃ ἐν τῷ παραδείσῳ

Verily I say unto thee, To day shalt thou be with me in paradise
St Luke xxiii.43

But He wasn't in Paradise that day was He? We say in our creeds that Jesus descended into Hell before He rose again from the dead. Or is Paradise merely the same place as Hell, or rather Sheol - the place of the Dead.

Yes, there are ambiguities about what Paradise is, whether it is temporary or permanent, or Heaven or Hades or even a Persian Disney Land (Heaven forbid!). Whatever our interpretations of this saying of Our Lord, there are two key ideas that reassure the Penitent Thief at the Eleventh Hour and any one of us at our Eleventh hours. In the Vulgate, these are two words: Amen (Truly) and mecum (with me).

We do not know what death is like - we cannot know. Our Faith gives us a sufficient measure of certainty due precisely to this Amen and this Mecum.

Truly we are with Him. And He is faithful, even if we are not.

At the point of Death itself when we pour out our final breaths amid our final confessions of abject failure, our silent scream into the night that we fear, we shall hear those words meant for us - Amen mecum. Is there anywhere else that we would want to be?

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