Death bed conversions


This account of the life and death bed conversion of Oscar Wilde started me thinking. It is a dangerous thing, to flirt with God - one never knows the day and time of the final call from this earth. What a signal grace has been given to so many sinners, the final opportunity to turn away from sin! Last week, my pastor preached about (among other things) a couple who came to him seeking the sacrament of matrimony. They had been living together, they had a house and several children, and they had finally been convicted of the need to repent, confess, regularize their life and to return to God and the Church. Praise god! said the priest - Although you did this backwards, God welcomes you home and so do we - welcome home. The confluence of this homily and the article about Wilde was, I am sure, no coincidence.
I have a bad tendency to be overly judgemental. I try to love the sinner and hate the sin, but all too often I hate them both or love them both. I have a tendency to think it unfair that a great sinner can, at the end of life, gain entrance to the Kingdom. Meanwhile, all the rest of us everyday sinners struggle along. As I was mulling this over, how I am not the arbiter of God's mercy (good thing, no?) I thought of two different parts of scripture. One is the parable of the laborors - found in Matthew 20:1-16. Those who worked all day, and those hired at the last hour, all were given the same wage. Is this just? It is certainly merciful - and by hiring the other laborors at the end of the day, those who had been there all along had less work to do. God brought in help at the end. Could this (along of course with God's desire that we all enter the Kingdom eventually - of our free will!) be part of why the signal grace of deathbed conversion is granted?
The other scripture that occured to me is Jesus's words to Dismas (the traditional name given to the Good Thief) - "Today, thou shalt be with me in Paradise".(Luke 23:43) You can't get much more of a death bed conversion than that!
There can be so much anguish in a true conversion - to turn away from sin and stay turned away is extremely difficult. I do understand the temptation to delay making the necessary changes. A death bed conversion or a life time of hypocrisy - which is the worse? Yet once we know, once we are convinced and convicted of the Truth that shall set us free, how can we choose NOT to take up the cross and follow Him? Alas, all too easily.
Lord, grant me the grace of a continuous and ongoing conversion. In your mercy, grant me the grace of knowing that the time of death is near, that I might be able to make a final Reconciliation with You.

February 2013

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About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by alicia published on April 19, 2003 5:04 PM.

Amazing Grace was the previous entry in this blog.

Christ is Risen! He is risen indeed! is the next entry in this blog.

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