Today You Will Be With Me In Paradise
by Maria Franco
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“Come near to God and he will come near to you.” James 4: 8
In life we always like to be the closest to the heart of the one we love. It means a lot to us to know that we occupy the prime spot in their lives and hearts as well. We like to be held special and above all the other people in their lives and know that the place we hold will never be toppled ever. This closeness is not just about being physically close but emotionally bonded no matter the miles and nations between. To know that thoughts and emotions are enough to keep us so close that it can outdo even any physical proximity.
How close can a person really get to another person in life? It is only when their souls and hearts are into each other that they have achieved the highest degree of oneness. When they look into each other’s eyes, they don’t just gaze, they look and look right into the core of the person’s soul. People can truly touch one another even in the absence of physical touch. People can be far apart and yet so very much close to the other.
If we look at the last few hours of Jesus when he was hanging on the cross, the people closest to him in heart were His Mother Mary, John the disciple and Mary Magdalene. They all loved the Lord tremendously and would not abandon him during his final moments. They shared every moment of his grief and passion, they were one with his stricken heart.
On the hand, we see that up there on the cross, the two people physically close to him were the two thieves. Legend says that the good thief was crucified on the right of Jesus whereas the bad thief was on his left. The stark difference between the two was that the bad robber taunted the Lord whereas the good thief used this moment of physical closeness to change it into a moment of spiritual closeness and means of salvation for his soul at the eleventh hour. He realized that it was only through Jesus that he could be lifted up from the cross into the gates of paradise and in a most touching statement asks the Lord to remember him when he comes into his heavenly kingdom. The Lord assures him with a heart felt promise that on that day he would be with him in paradise. What a reassuring hope for each and every one of us till this date that the closer we are to the heart of the Lord, the more definite is our eternal hope of being with him in the bliss of a heavenly paradise where we can only be held in close oneness to His Sacred Heart.
Jesus is often depicted as the good shepherd who goes after the stray sheep and on finding him holds him close to his heart because he has saved his chosen one and won for him the rewards of paradise. We have seen very often that when Jesus was with his disciples, his favorite disciple John was always seen reclining close to his heart, specially at the last supper. This bond never slackened right up to the foot of the cross and at the burial of our Lord. Though all the disciples strove to be closest to him, they all abandoned him and only John being the truly closest one stood by the Lord faithfully.
We also see how the mother of the sons of Zebedee tried to persuade Jesus to allow her sons to sit both on his right and left when Jesus entered his heavenly glory. But the Lord tells her that she did not know what she was asking for and even if her sons were prepared to drink from the bitter cup, it was up to the Father in heaven to designate who would be allowed to sit next to his heavenly throne.
Only the spotless Lamb of God, who was the sacrificial victim sits at the right hand of God in heaven after having done away with death and having put all his enemies under his feet.
In the order of angels who stand before the throne of God, the closest are the Seraphim, Cherubim and the thrones. Our Lady rightly called the Queen of Heaven stands next to her Son just as she stood next to him on the cross whilst on earth. On this earth, the Lord himself has moved closest to us in the Eucharist where he is one with us. The Holy Spirit can be truly called our soul mate as it is bonded with our own spirit right from the moment of our baptism until the end of time, it will never leave us and is the closest to the interior of our being.
It is only when Love is present in a million fold measure that an everlasting closeness can be maintained between hearts. This love can reach its summit when one soul becomes the mirror of the other soul, one heart becomes the resting place of the other. In this manner, they are very much a part of each other’s daily happenings in a soulful way and do not miss out a single day of being united in hearts.
We read in 1 Peter 1:8; “Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy.”
The Trinity has loved us all immensely with a great love and it is this love that draws us into a closer and closer relationship with the Father, Son and Spirit as we live out our earthly life. The fullness of this love can be continued and completed only when we are together with the Lord with Him in Paradise.
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