We all know the story at the Crucifixion, in which the Good Thief who, after a life of sin, says to Jesus, just prior to his death on the cross, “Lord, remember me when you enter into your kingdom” (Luke 23:42). Our Lord immediately responds: “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise” (Luke 23:43). This gift of salvation, of Paradise, can never be earned, but only freely given by Our Lord. Nevertheless, we have to respond with faith, hope, and love to this invitation from our Lord, as the good thief ultimately did on the cross (Cf. John 15: 16). Our cooperation with grace is essential and the only thing that we can give to the Lord. This applies even when we intercede for our relatives who are in need of an encounter with Our Lord.
The Power of Hopeful Intercession
We don’t know who was praying for the Good Thief to repent, but in the case of St. Augustine, it was his mother Monica who prayed, fasted, and patiently waited with trust for his conversion to Christ. There was even a time when Augustine became a Manichean and had a falling out with his mother Monica (Gillian Weyant, Monica and Augustine: The Power of a Mother’s Prayers (coraevans.com). But when he ultimately came to Christ, it was not Monica that earned her son’s salvation, but rather, she trusted that Jesus Himself would win him back, and she offered her sufferings to help Jesus win back the heart of her son. This prayer and sacrifice of Monica went on for decades and was intensified by her husband’s own deathbed conversion (Gillian Weyant, Monica and Augustine: The Power of a Mother’s Prayers (coraevans.com).
Our Lord As Savior
If you are a mother who struggles with your children’s lack of faith, you could be Saint Monica to them through your steadfast prayer and fasting. The same applies to fathers, husbands, wives, sons, daughters, brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles who are willing to be used by the Lord to help in the attainment of salvation for those in your life, who are dearest to you and Christ loves. Never give up on the conversion of anyone, because our Lord never does (Matthew 28:20) and always acts in His perfect timing.