One of the criminals who were hanged railed at him, saying, "Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us!" But the other rebuked him, saying, "Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? And we indeed justly; for we are receiving the due reward of our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong." And he said, "Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.""Euthanasia" or "physician assisted suicide" is not merciful. True mercy only comes from God in the forgiveness of our sins.
And he said to him, "Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise."
-- Luke 23:43
The good news of the Crucifixion and Resurrection of Jesus Christ is the triumph over death. The Christian faith explains the true meaning of death and in so doing gives new meaning to our lives. Christ gives us hope even in our pain and suffering.
We have become numb to the message of Christ, but if we could only listen to it as if it were the first time -- the way that the Greeks heard it from St. Paul shortly after the resurrection -- then we would understand just how powerful that message is. It was like a holy fire that swept through the Roman empire destroying all false belief systems in its path.
Perhaps the most powerful part of that message are Christ's teachings on life after death. Christ promises us that we can attain the Kingdom of Heaven through our love of God and through our love of neighbor -- and not through burnt offerings and sacrifices.
There is no earthly path to Heaven. It is only through Christ's sacrifice on the Cross for us that the door is opened.
As Christians we need not fear death nor illness and suffering. Our faith in God strengthens us and carries us. We trust in the mercy of God and in Christ's promise of eternal life for all those who believe in Him.
One of the thieves who was crucified alongside Christ mocked Him just as our secular society mocks Christianity today, while the other thief asked for forgiveness and was granted a place in the Kingdom of Heaven. They were both facing death but one of them recognized Jesus as the Son of God and found new hope.
Pray for the sick and dying that they may find God in the midst of their sufferings.