We put money in the bank. We can establish a checking account; set up a certificate of deposit; save funds for retirement. However, heaven is not like a bank. If our salvation depended on our efforts, no one would be saved.
Age-long question: will we go to heaven after we die? Will I go to heaven after I die? Our desire is to be with God for all eternity because that’s the reason we were created in the first place. God made us to share everlasting happiness in His presence. Ingrained into our hard wiring is the longing to live forever. Regardless of our socio-economic status we know that there’s got to be something better—where there will be no more pain, no more sadness—no more tears. However, since we have all been raised with the mentality of rewards and punishments, the doubts creep in. God is watching, keeping track of our sins, and one day we will have to pay for all the wrong we have done. If indeed we were held accountable for all the mistakes we have made, no one, not even the Holy Father would get to heaven. Speaking of the Holy Father, consider the litany of the saints. Almost without exception, they were all great sinners. At some point they stopped the nonsense and gave their life to Jesus Christ. From the Apostles to Mother Teresa—they were not perfect but allowed themselves to be molded by the grace of the Holy Spirit. God changed them, with their cooperation. Very few people get the St. Paul effect—where he was stuck down and heard a voice and made a complete turnaround. From that moment his life changed. St. Paul stopped killing Christians and became the Leader—the Apostle among Christians. He wrote 1/3 of the New Testament and never knew that he was changing our Religion forever. St. Paul was on fire—burning with the Passion to love others as he was convinced that Jesus loves us. There was no stopping him. Even after his martyrdom, his message of freedom continues to influence the way we think. We read from St. Paul’s letters at almost every Holy Mass. From sinner to saint.
That’s our goal. Our call, our vocation is to be a saint. Remember that at the Second Coming of Christ there will only be heaven and hell—nothing in between. Purgatory is place of purification and the souls there already have one foot in heaven, it’s just a matter of time. That’s why we refer to them as the Holy Souls in Purgatory.
The “narrow gate” blocks out all pride. Check out how easily we are offended and we will have a reading on our level of pride. When hurts last a long time, pride is usually at the root. Imagine that a prideful person is fat and tall—the gate is narrow. Therefore we want to practice letting go of resentments—best plan available to slim down in order to make the passage through the narrow gate. Control is another big obstacle to humility. The majority of us like to be in control, especially of other people. Not even God, who is all-powerful choses to control us. God leaves us free, even when we sin. In many instances we opt for doing our will and forget about what God wants. There are no tricks in order to get to heaven—no puzzle we need to solve and certainly no secret combination of prayers to recite. Simple humility, letting go of the past, trusting in God’s mercy—that’s the only requirement. Naturally penance, repentance, a life dedicated to doing God’s will helps. There are no perfect people in the world. So heaven is about the folks willing to try—willing to allow God to change them. Obviously there will be many surprises because the last will be first and the first will be last. Our ways are not God’s ways.
We are grateful that we are not judged according to our faults but according to God’s love for us.