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Pastor's Corner: Do you want to go to Heaven when you die?


Last updated 8/26/2022 at 9:11am

Last weekend at our Saturday night and Sunday services, I had the responsibility of preaching on the readings for the 21st Sunday in Ordinary time. The readings were as follows: Isaiah 66:18-21, Hebrews 12:5-7,11-13 and the Gospel was Luke 13:22-30. In my homily I focused mostly on the Hebrews reading and the Gospel reading.

I started my homily with a survey of those present. The survey was one question long and was the same question that is at the top of this page. The survey concluded that all present did indeed want to go to heaven when they die. That being the case the Gospel reading from Luke 13:22-30 could be a cause for concern. In the Gospel Jesus is asked if only a few people will be saved, and Jesus answered. "Strive to enter through the narrow gate, for many, I tell you, will attempt to enter and will not be strong enough."

Those who are not strong enough to enter will knock on the masters door saying "Lord open the door for us." And the master of the house will reply saying, 'I do not know where you are from.' Those not strong enough to enter will say, "We ate and drank in your company, and you taught in our streets." To which the master replies, "I do not know where you are from. Depart from me, all you evil doers." Jesus continues by letting his listeners know that there will be wailing and grinding of teeth as those to weak to enter through the narrow door see a host of others in heaven reclining at the table of the Lord while they themselves are cast out.

This whole conversation that Jesus had with the people may leave us a little concerned about what we have to do to ensure that we get to heaven. But I believe that if we are asking what we have to do to get into heaven we are already going down the wrong path and asking the wrong question.

There has long been a perceived point of contention between churches - are we saved by acts or works of faith or are we saved by grace? I believe we are saved by grace alone. Two thousand plus years ago Jesus lived through his passion, death, resurrection and ascension into heaven humanity. His arms were open so wide he could embrace all of humanity. This was a great gift given to us all. The question is do we receive the gift?

Have you ever given a gift to someone, and they don't appreciate it or use it after they open it? In that case the gift has not been received and cannot be used for the purpose in which it has been given. It is the same with God's gift grace and salvation. If, for whatever reason, we do not receive God's gift of grace and salvation and enter into it letting it change us and form us and strengthen us, we will not be strong enough to enter through the narrow gate as Jesus said.

As Jesus said, there will be those who said "We ate and drank in your company and you taught in our streets." And the master will say, "I do not know you, depart from me." When I read this, I think of someone who may go to church on a regular basis, pray regularly and even spend time in scripture, but they are doing it to earn their way into heaven not to allow the free gift of God's grace and salvation change them.

As I look back through the history of Christianity there is an observable record of how the reception of the gift of God's grace and salvation can change the way of life of individuals as well as all of society. If we take time to observe this record of God's grace and salvation being actively lived out by others, (the people of God) we can then look at ourselves and determine if we have opened the great gift of God's grace and salvation.

Are the gifts of the Holy Spirit (Isaiah 11:2-3) present and active in our lives? Do the Fruits of the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23) manifest themselves in our relationships with others? If these gifts and fruits of the Holy Spirit are present in our lives it is safe to say we have opened the great gift of God's grace and salvation.

If we have opened the gift of God's grace and salvation we will be to busy sharing that gift with others to even ask the question of who is going to heaven because we will have already experienced the first fruits of Heaven on Earth (Mark 1:15) and we will know personally the grace, love and forgiveness of God.

Enjoy the Gift!

Live the Gift!



Deacon Tim Maroney

St. Jude Thaddeus Catholic Church


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