32nd Sunday Ordinary Time
2 Maccabees 7:1-2,9-14
2 thessalonians 2:16-3:5
Life is short. If you live only for 20 years or as long as 100 years, life is still very short. In fact, when you compare one human lifespan to eternity, then there is really nothing to compare. All our lives are just a brief preparation for what is to come – Eternal Life.
The scriptures are full of references to the doctrine that human beings were created as eternal beings. The flesh is mortal but the spirit is immortal. It cannot die. It will live forever. Furthermore, the Old Testament includes references to the resurrection of the body which the New Testament makes explicit.
In the gospels, Jesus is confronted by the Saducees who questioned Jesus about the resurrection. They denied the idea that the dead will rise on the Lord’s Day. And so Jesus answered their question by explaining the matter to them – that the dead will indeed rise, but that those who are raised will be like angels and will be the children of God.
There is an important line in the teaching that Jesus gives – one to which we must pay attention.
“Those who are deemed worthy to attain to the coming age and to the resurrection of the dead”
The scriptures and the Church teach that after we die there are three possible places for us to go. Heaven. Purgatory. And Hell.
There has been a wrong teaching going around about the resurrection – that of universalism. This refers to an idea that everyone will be saved by Jesus. There is no possibility of hell. Or that there is no hell at all. No Satan. No demons. No condemnation.
Let me say categorically that the scriptures and the Church clearly teach that hell exists. Satan exists. Demons exist. People can be sentenced to hell because of their evil deeds and lack of repentence. Jesus taught this very clearly in the gospels. For this reason the Word became flesh, dwelt among us, died for our sins, and was raised from the dead so that we might have life. We need a savior and Jesus came to save us from the terrible fate of Hell. And what is hell? Scripture teaches that it is flames. Eternal torment. Eternal separation from God. The place where Satan and all his fallen angels have already been sentenced for all of eternity.
Let me say also that the scriptures and the Church categorically teach that Purgatory exists. It is called by other names in the bible. Hades. Sheol. The abode of the dead. It clearly is not heaven but it also is clearly not the lake of eternal fire. It is the way of purification, so as to achieve the holiness necessary to enter the joy of heaven. St. Paul describes this in 1 Cor 3:15 when he says that when we are judged, each person’s work will be tried. And what happens if a righteous man’s work fails the test? “He will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire.” Let the reader understand that this fire doesn’t refer to a sentence to hell. No one is saved in hell. This passage also can’t refer to heaven. There is no suffering or loss in heaven. So the doctrine of purgatory is the only sufficient explanation of this scripture, and others like it.
It is important for us to know about what happens to us after death. And our aim is Heaven. Eternal life with God. This is the will of God for us.
In the past couple of weeks we have reviewed some basic Catholic practices that each of us must do so that we may be converted and prepared for heaven.
Pray every day. Pray from the heart. Use the prayers the Church gives us like the rosary, the liturgy of the hours, the morning offering, and many other prayers. Pray!
Read your bible every day. God’s word will help you change how you think.
Go to confession – monthly if possible. There is not one person here who doesn’t need confession on a regular basis.
Fast – weekly on Fridays.
Attend mass every Sunday at the very least. Daily mass is very good.
These five simple steps: prayer, the bible, confession, fasting, and mass will help you to attain heaven. It is through these faithful practices that each of us can be made worthy of the promises of Christ. It is through opening our hearts to Christ that he can do what St. Paul described in Thessalonians. For He who has loved us and given us everlasting encouragement and good hope through his grace, will encourage our hearts and strengthen them in every good deed and word.”