Here’s a question:
How do you get to heaven?
How do we avoid going to hell?
A lot of people think, you do it by being good enough.
Sort of like passing a test.
But that’s not correct.
None of us can be good enough on our own.
Instead of thinking of heaven as a place…think of it as a relationship.
Heaven is being united with Jesus Christ.
If we are truly and fully united to Jesus Christ in this life,
we’re already in heaven.
You might say, wait--I’m baptized, I go to communion every Sunday--
Am I in heaven? I don’t feel like I’m in heaven.
Remember, I said heaven is perfect union with Christ.
That is the struggle I think most of us have;
that’s where sin and pride come in.
Even though we can be in heaven right now,
we’re also still on earth; meaning, we’re still in time.
We change; we go hot and cold.
I’ll be here, in church, and think,
“Jesus, you’re awesome! I’ll do anything for you!”
Later today may be a different story.
That’s why we have the sacrament of reconciliation.
We go to confession to heal those times we are unfaithful to Christ.
Think of our union with Christ as a marriage--
except our Lord truly does forgive and forget.
Still, after all that, we have cares and burdens--
is that part of heaven too?
No, but letting go of those things
is part of finding our way there.
The path to heaven is covered with litter:
All the opinions once worth fighting over,
All the ambitions we neglected our family for,
All those possessions we once cut corners to obtain.
As we get closer and closer to heaven,
we no longer see their worth.
Throw them away!
To see what heaven on earth looks like, look at the saints.
Saint Francis of Assisi gave it all away and become free;
Saint Rose was only interested in pleasing the Lord,
no one else’s judgments mattered.
Saint Maximilian Kolbe was thrown into Auschwitz--hell on earth--
yet those who were with him saw the light of heaven on his face.
And while I’m talking about the saints, let me mention something.
Hallowe’en is ten days away, and a lot of our children
are figuring out their costumes.
Have you noticed how strong is the assumption
that Hallowe’en is about devils and monsters?
Hallowe’en is the eve of All Saints: All Hallows Eve
(and it’s a holy day of obligation this year, by the way).
Now, I’m not telling anyone what costume to wear, but--
isn’t it curious that a holiday that has always been
about the people who show us what heaven is like,
has been turned into something that looks more like hell?
So maybe one practical thing we can do is not help that along?
Saints James and John figured it out--
so did the other Apostles who were initially upset.
In the end, one thing matters.