Dimas was an example of a last
minute repentance. And there really is such a thing. But St. Paul
likens it to running out of a burning building.
To postpone our repentance for the
final hour is presumption. Do you know when is your final hour? It
can be forty years from now, but it can be this afternoon. So for
which final hour shall you prepare? And if you cannot repent while
you are strong and healthy, how can you when you are sick and weak?
The repentance of a weak person is weak, of a sick person is sick ,
of a dying person, a dead repentance.
To repent only at the final hour is
a dangerous risk. All the saints are agreed that, in spite of all
the holy signs surrounding your death, if this is done only at the
approach of death, your salvation is still doubtful. A holy death is
still attained through a holy life and not by a brief life of
conversion at the final hour. Dimas was, of course, an exception.
But how many of us are included in the exception list?
If you cannot repent while your
mind is clear, how can you when it is cloudy, confused and fearful?
If you cannot repent when you have much time to examine your
conscience, how can you when your time has run out? If you cannot
repent while in full possession of your faculties, how can you when
you are in a coma?
When Christ introduced the life of
repentance to us, i.e. the Evangelical Life, it was meant for the
young, strong and healthy to be lived all his life. The evangelical
life is not lived only at the final hour. He who would not repent
while he is strong will not be able to repent when he is weak.
St. Caesarius of Arles