We were attending mass at our local Parish (St Francis of Assisi) when I noticed a particularly significant characteristic of our position in the sanctuary. We came in late (as is frequent with our rather spirited family of 4) and had to sit in the side portion that looks at the altar from the side. As a consequence of our location, we were on the side of the crucifix. It brought to mind the story of St. Dismas.
He is the Saint who is said to have "stolen heaven." At his last hour, he looked upon the face of the crucified Jesus, defended him and repented. He made it into heaven by "the skin of his teeth" and by the grace of God alone.
As I contemplated the story of St. Dismas, I realized we are all like St. Dismas...or at least we should all hope to be like him. We commit sin. We are subject to the consequences of our sin. We are utterly dependent on the grace of God for entry into paradise. Our seat in Mass reminded me that we are all called to carry our cross and live as if we are being crucified. Given this fact, we should never have the comfort of standing in front of our crucified Lord as he suffers...we should be next to him carrying our cross. It is only in this position, in this posture that we can hope to share in Christ's suffering and somehow also "steal" heaven.