A few years ago, a film entitled “The Last Temptation of Christ” caused a scandal, not so much because of the idea that Jesus of Nazareth was tempted, but because in this film, as in other works of fiction, one could intuit a loving relationship between Our Lord and Mary Magdalene.

As is known, the evangelist Saint John, when reporting the resurrection of Christ, says that Mary Magdalene, upon seeing the resurrected Lord, treated Him, although they were alone, as Master, that is, with the deference that is typical of a disciple , and not with the intimacy that is usual between lovers. And when she wanted to effusively express her joy and enthusiasm, it was the Lord himself who restrained her, saying: “Do not hold me back, for I have not yet ascended to my Father, but go to my brothers and tell them that I have ascended to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God” (John 20:17).

It is not repugnant to Catholic theology to admit that Jesus was tempted, as happened at the end of the forty days spent in the desert, although, given his divine condition, he could not sin. It can also be admitted, with due respect, that Jesus of Nazareth did not always act in the most humanly correct way: think, for example, of the choice of Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him, as his apostle; the a of Peter, who denied him three times, for his representative on earth, as the first Pope.

In this sense, it would not be unreasonable to question two statements made by Jesus, already crucified, and which, except for better opinion, seem to be mistaken. In effect, what he said to the good thief should have been said to Our Lady and, what was then asked of his Mother, should have been imposed, mutatis mutandis, on the repentant thief.

It is from the top of the Cross that Jesus not only forgives the good thief, but also assures him that, on that same day, he would be, with Him, in paradise. Now, taking into account that the criminal himself recognized his guilt, it seemed more fair that the Master had imposed a harsh penance on him for his crimes, as justice demanded, or, at least, some periods of expiation in purgatory, which for that , in fact, it exists. This instant and unconditional absolution and the immediate canonization of what, since then, has paradoxically passed into History as 'the good thief', seems to have been a precipitation of Our Lord, perhaps due to the state of agony in which he found himself at that moment.

The Master's other unjustified statement, also on that occasion, was made by his mother, Our Lady. Standing next to the Cross, Mary would have deserved a word of praise or, at least, recognition. This gratitude was all the more due to him as it contrasted with the absence of the apostles, with the honorable exception of the disciple whom the Lord loved. However, instead of Jesus rewarding his Mother for her heroic fidelity, he imposed on her, precisely at that moment, an enormous cross, making her the mother not only of that apostle, but also of all of us!

For someone who was already nothing less than Mother of God, such a status was not at all honorable, quite the opposite. Even worse, by giving her this new motherhood, Mary was unable to go, with Jesus, to Heaven, where Saint Joseph, her parents Saint Joachim and Saint Anne, her cousin Saint Elizabeth, her husband, Zechariah, and their son, Saint John the Baptist, etc. What a disappointment for Our Lady! What a shame it is not yet possible to ascend to paradise, with Jesus, she who, more than any other creature, so deserved heavenly bliss!

According to human logic, these two cases would have been resolved easily if Our Lord had given each of them the fate He gave to the other: it would have been very fair for Him to have told the good thief that He was curing him and even freeing him from the cross, but so that he could serve his brothers in the faith and thus, through good works, atone for his crimes. In turn, Our Lady, her divine son, should have said what he then said to the good thief: Today, you will be with me, in paradise!

God did not want it to be like this, so that Our Lady would not only be his Mother, but also our mother. And, with the same care as Jesus loved, he also loves us, inviting us, with his life and words, to do everything He tells us.

If Mary exchanged Heaven for us, how can we not give Heaven, here on earth, to all the mothers who gave us not only earthly life, but also life in faith?!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 Fr Gonçalo Portocarrero de Almada

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