Year of Mercy points the way to heaven
Let’s face it, we all want to go to heaven. That’s one destination with no downside. The harps. The white fluffy clouds. A mega-buffet 24/7 and all the champagne you can drink, right?
I hate to burst your bubble, but heaven is far better than that! It’s an unending praise and worship session before the Father’s throne. Jesus, of course, is at his right hand and the Holy Spirit is everywhere. It’s eternal ecstasy beyond anything possible on this planet.
Now that I’ve placed you (figuratively) before the throne, let’s talk about how to get there. That’s the tricky part. Sort of. Jesus is the gate to heaven. He said, “No one comes to the Father except through me.” How to get to heaven through Jesus? The clearest answer is in Matthew where Jesus talks about how he will gather “all nations” before him (that’s us) and separate the sheep from the goats.
“Then the king will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father. Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me, naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me’” (Mt: 25:34-36).
Jesus makes it abundantly clear that if we don’t care for those in need and put others first, we will not enter heaven. And I don’t read any exceptions into his mandate.
Living in an affluent part of the world in the 21st century, I often ponder how this passage applies to me. I can’t fly off to India and work with the poor. There are very few destitute people living close to me. I am, however, defending “the least among us” in every possible way and tending the flock God gave me — my own children — and instilling in them the importance of the corporal and spiritual works of mercy.
In this Year of Mercy, I’m taking Jesus at his word. I yearn for heaven, but I know it isn’t “earned” by works. He opened heaven for me. I’m doing works simply out of love for him, and that’s what he asks of each of us.
PATRICK NOVECOSKY is Legatus magazine’s editor-in-chief.