heaven

Did I Do Enough To Get To Heaven?

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I have a good priest friend of mine who has only been ordained less than a year. He just had to bury his grandfather. I went to the funeral and for the funeral homily he relayed a story of the last time he talked to his grandfather.

The grandfather was talking to his grandson, who is a priest. He said to his grandson, “Father,” (he still called him father even though he is his grandson) “Did I do enough to get there?”

Father Eric looked at his grandfather and said, “Where?”

His grandfather said, “To heaven.

Did I do enough to get there?”

It was one of those times as a priest where we don’t know exactly what to say because ultimately that is up to God, because God is the one who is judge.

We hear about that in the Gospel today, that ultimately on the last judgement, Jesus Christ will come as King and He will judge. He will separate the good from the bad. The sheep from the goats and the righteous and unrighteous.

I think that is a good question for all of us to ask ourselves, right?

Did I do enough to get there?

To heaven.

I think it’s also important to realize what that means. What does doing enough mean?

First of all, we can never do enough to get there. We can’t earn our way into heaven no matter how many good deeds we have done. It is only by the grace of God.

We hear that so strongly in the First Reading from the Prophet Ezekiel. He said, “Thus says the Lord: I myself will look after and tend my sheep. I will rescue them from every place where they were scattered when it was cloudy and dark. I myself will pasture my sheep. I myself will give them rest. I will seek out the lost. I will bring back the injured. I will bind them. I will heal the sick.”

First of all just realizing that it’s ultimately God that does everything. And, realizing too that we have had an experience, hopefully in our lives, where we have felt God’s love; where we felt God’s healing; maybe even a sin that we have struggled with and experienced forgiveness in Confession. First of all, that we ourselves have felt His love.

That is so essential for us. Remember, no amount of good deeds done by ourselves can get us into heaven. It’s only His love working through us.

It kind of progresses through the Readings then because then we have the Psalm, The Lord is my Shepherd, there’s nothing I shall want. He is my shepherd. He is your shepherd. If we can receive that love from Him, it can’t help but go out into others. He wants to lead us to green pastures. He is the way for us to enter into heaven.

But the question remains, did I do enough? What does that mean?

Then we hear the Second Reading from Corinthians and He says, “Brothers and sisters: Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep . . . in Christ all will be brought to life.”

It is only in Christ that we can be brought to eternal life. Again, it’s not through anything we do, but it is in Christ that we are brought to eternal life.

But that doesn’t mean that we do nothing, right?

We experience and receive God’s love, but we are not to just sit there like this forever and say, “Ah, that was awesome God.” We are then supposed to become Christ for others.

After Jesus suffered, died, rose from the dead, ascended into heaven, and sent His Holy Spirit at Pentecost, from that moment forward, we would do the healing.

From that moment forward, He would speak to us as members of His Church, the Body of Christ. From that moment forward, we would take on that kingship. You were Baptized as priest, prophet, and king.

Now having been loved, having been healed, having been forgiven, we can now be Christ for the world.

We can go and heal those doorsteps. We can go and visit those in prison, and when we do, we experience Christ. We can go in hospitals and visit those that are sick. We can visit those who are struggling with any kind of addiction.

First having experienced the love of Christ, and then revealing it to others.

We hear in the Gospel, Jesus say ultimately that will be the Final Judgement. When He said to those that are righteous, “Come, you who are blessed by my Father. Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. I was hungry and you gave me food. I was thirsty and you gave me drink.” And the disciples said, “When, Lord, when?

And He said, when you did it for the least of mine.”

Anytime when we do it for the least of His, we are accomplishing our mission in life.

The truth is, it is not us doing it. It is always God the Father healing and binding in the storm. He wants to work through us. He also gives the grace to work through us to go into very difficult places that we never thought we could go.

Ultimately, then we can come full circle back around and ask ourselves that question.

“Have I done enough to get there?”

And even a deeper way, “Have I known Him enough, have I loved Him enough, has He taken on flesh enough in me to get there and to bring all of us to heaven.”

Image credit: good morning

About the Author Fr. Michael Denk

Fr. Michael was ordained into priesthood in the Diocese of Cleveland on May 12, 2007. He is dedicated to helping others encounter Christ through the celebration of the Eucharist, preaching, the Sacrament of Reconciliation, spiritual direction, and prayer.

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I'm Father Michael J. Denk, a priest of the Catholic Diocese of Cleveland. I am a contributor of content to The Prodigal Father Productions, Inc., a non-profit corporation functioning in accord with the traditions and the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church. The corporation and I are separate, it doesn't speak for me, the parish, or on behalf of the Diocese of Cleveland, and I do not speak for it.