Eleventh Hour Conversion

    A man named Charles was lying in a hospital bed near death. The nursing staff, the man's wife and a couple of children all testified that Charles was not a very nice man. He drank too much, he was verbally abusive to his wife and he had alienated his children. He did, however, ask for a Chaplain. The staff filled the Chaplain in on Charles and the kind of person he was. The Chaplain went into the room to visit Charles who asked him to pray.

    The conversation went something like this. "Would you pray for me?" Charles asked. "What do you want to say to God?" the Chaplain asked. "Tell God that I am sorry for the way my life has turned out. Tell him that I am sorry for the way I treated my wife and family and that I've always really loved them." "That's it?" "No. Tell God that I know I have no right to ask this, but I would like to be able to live with him." The Chaplain prayed Charles' prayer for him. He came back the next morning to inquire about Charles' condition. Charles had passed away during the night.

    Now what do you suppose? Did Charles receive the grace of God? And if he did, did he receive as much of God's love and grace as you have after all these years of being Catholic and faithful to the Sacraments? Some might consider this type of "Eleventh Hour" deathbed conversion unfair.

    Very often displeasure with perceived unfairness is expressed with, "That's not fair!" Children on a playground shout when they detect foul play, "That's not fair!" Siblings doing household errands may complain, "I'm doing most of the work! That's not fair!" Someone at work receives a raise in salary when another person thinks she is more deserving, "I have seniority. I've been here longer; that's not fair!" Tax payers grumble about the government distribution of goods or money to certain people saying, "I have to work hard to make a living for myself and my family. So should everyone else... that's not fair!"

    In a parable called 'Workers in the Vineyard', Jesus answers such doubts. This story of the landlord's love and generosity represents God's love and generosity to us, and Jesus demonstrates this throughout his life. It shows us how God looks at us, sees our needs, and meets those needs. The question in God's mind is not, "How much do these people deserve?" But, "How can I help them? How can I save them before they perish?" It is all about grace and blessings. God's provisions for our spiritual lives will never run out, and when we share our blessings with others, we tap into the inexhaustible divine supply.

    Many of your own children are away from Church and God. Parents and grandparents shed tears for their conversion. No one knows when they will return back to the church. One might think that God is gracious and he does not want anyone to perish; "certainly he will save my children." That is good! But all the same, you must patiently wait for your children to reach their eleventh hour, not knowing when it will happen. How to be sure that they will have a real conversion at the last moment? Will there be time for it?

    Human calculation is to restrict God's movements and power, but to God we are more than just numbers on a payroll. God is always available to anyone who reaches out. His timing is such that any time is the right time!

In the Service of the Lord,
  Fr Thainese Alphonse


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