MAKING IT TO HEAVEN
November 1, 2013
Today’s readings: Rev 7:2-14; Ps 24:1-6; 1 Jn 3:1-3; Mt 5:1-12
We all want to make it to heaven, and to bring along as many as we can with us. This is the rationale for our walk to holiness and our work of evangelization. The question is: “Who may go up the mountain of the Lord? Who can stand in his holy place?” (Ps 24:3). What are the requirements?
First, it is for “the clean of hand and pure of heart” (Ps 24:4a). With heaven as intended by God, “we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. Everyone who has this hope based on him makes himself pure, as he is pure.” (1 Jn 3:2d-3). We are to live pure. We are to strive for righteousness and holiness. We are to be perfect just as our heavenly Father is perfect. That is how we shall be like Him.
Second, it is for one “who has not given his soul to useless things, what is vain.” (Ps 24:4b). What are the useless and vain things? These are the things of the world. We are not to indulge in these, nor seek them out, nor find our consolation in them. A holy person after all is someone who is set apart. He is in the world but is not of it. He does not pursue what the world pursues–money, power, pleasure, fame, career, honors. These are vain and useless things, which we cannot take into heaven, and which in fact might keep us from making it to heaven.
When one does the above, “he will receive blessings from the Lord, and justice from his saving God.” (Ps 24:5). What is justice? It is giving to the other person what is his due. What is due to us? It is salvation, which God went to great lengths to win for us, to the extent of sacrificing His own Son Jesus on the cross. Jesus won salvation for us on the cross, and that is what is due to us. But we need to accept that salvation, and manifest our faith in Jesus as Savior and Lord by a life of holiness.
As we do so, we will receive blessings from the Lord. These are the beatitudes. In what ways will we be blessed?
* “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” (Mt 5:3). The poor in spirit are those who recognize their complete dependence on God. They do not seek wealth or power, which they consider the useless and vain things of the world.
* “Blessed are they who mourn, for they will be comforted.” (Mt 5:4). There is much to mourn in this valley of tears, but our suffering should lead us to greater faith and hope in God. It should lead us to entering more deeply into the embrace of God, who is the only One who can truly give us comfort and consolation.
* “Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the land.” (Mt 5:5). The meek are not pushovers. Meekness is enduring injury with patience and without resentment. We can only do so if we have totally abandoned ourselves into the hands of God, looking to Him for justice and vindication. Meekness enables us to persevere in running the race, despite all the negatives that come our way. Our resolve does not wane but rather grows stronger.
* “Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be satisfied.” (Mt 5:6). Righteousness is moral conduct in conformity with God’s will. If we ardently desire to do God’s will, then God’s grace will be sufficient and the Spirit’s empowerment will be available.
* “Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.” (Mt 5:7). Mercy is an attribute of God. We are told by Jesus to be merciful just as our Father is merciful. Further, we forgive others so God will also forgive us.
* “Blessed are the clean of heart, for they will see God.” (Mt 5:8). We are to live pure, so that we can go up the holy mountain of the Lord.
* “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.” (Mt 5:9). Jesus is the Prince of Peace. When we also work for peace in the world, then we can rightly lay claim to being brothers of Jesus and children of God. “See what love the Father has bestowed on us that we may be called the children of God. Yet so we are.” (1 Jn 3:1a).
We can see that what we are to be is so markedly different, nay opposite, from how people in the world are. Worldly people go for riches, engage in revelry, are aggressive and domineering, live unrighteous lives, show no mercy to others, have sinful hearts, and wage wars. These are the useless and vain things. In contrast, what the world shuns and disdains are what can lead us closer to God and nearer to heaven.
When we finally make it to the mountain of the Lord, may we find many others there, especially those we evangelized. That would be quite an assembly, where there would be “a great multitude, which no one could count, from every nation, race, people, and tongue.” (Rev 7:9a). And we all, together with the angels and saints, would be worshiping God (Rev 7:9b-11).
In heaven at that time, there will be those who will stand out and be noticed. “Then one of the elders spoke up and said to me, ‘Who are those wearing white robes, and where did they come from?’” (Rev 7:13). The Lord will then answer, “These are the ones who have survived the time of great distress; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.” (Rev 7:14b). We are now in the time of great distress, with powerful diabolical worldly forces assaulting faith, family and life. There will be oppression, persecution and the attendant suffering. But “blessed are they who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” (Mt 5:10). We want to make it to heaven? Then let us boldly face the enemy’s assaults, allow our suffering to result in greater holiness, and know that, just like Jesus, our death to the world is our entry to eternal life.
We need to endure and to persevere. And perhaps even shed our blood for the cause of Christ. But again, we need to look to the beatitude: “Blessed are you when they insult you and persecute you and utter every kind of evil against you falsely because of me. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward will be great in heaven. Thus they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” (Mt 5:11-12). We will see those persecuted prophets who went before us in heaven. Then we can all exclaim: “Amen. Blessing and glory, wisdom and thanksgiving, honor, power, and might be to our God forever and ever. Amen.” (Rev 7:12).
“Such is the generation that seeks him, that seeks the face of the God of Jacob.” (Ps 24:6). Let us continue to seek the Lord, as we grow in holiness, keeping the beatitudes as our road map.
Let us continue to serve the Lord, as we do the work of the New Evangelization. “The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him.” (1 Jn 3:1b). Let us work such that the world will meet and know Jesus, and start to live in and for him. Let us live and act such that the world will know us, to see Christ in us. This is the way we will be empowered to witness.
Let us look forward to our eternal reward, when we will be in God’s presence and see Him face-to-face.
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God bless you all.
“For to me life is Christ, and death is gain.” (Phil 1:21)