DO you know the way to heaven?

Do you know the way to Heaven?


The Gospel we heard today is often used in funeral homilies. In about 90% of funeral homilies you will hear this as The Gospel. “In My Father’s house there are many places. If there were not what I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you I will come back again and take you to myself so that where I am you also may be.”

I love it because Thomas always gets very panicky, anxious, and confused. He said, “Jesus, if You are going, tell us the way. Tell us the way so we know how to get there.” Jesus said one of the most profound lines I think in all of the Scriptures. “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” They think it is so important for us to know this and to meditate on this because we live in such a secular world. We believe there are many roads all leading to heaven. Jesus just makes it so clear. He is the way, the truth, and the life. Thomas wants to know that. He wants to say to Jesus, “Tell me how to get there. Show me how to get there.” Jesus does not do that. He says if you want to get to heaven, it is through me. It is only through me. I am the way, the truth, and the life. I think this so important for us to reflect on, especially as we celebrate this time of Easter, the fifth Sunday of Easter. We are celebrating the reality of the resurrected life. The reality is we can experience heaven on Earth. Alternately, one day we will be in heaven with Him if we know Him. Through this life of ours, we come to know Him, to love Him, and to give our life to Him. I think it is important for us to ask the question, “Do we know Him? Do we really know Jesus?” He is the way for us, the truth for us, and the life for us.

I think when it comes tofuneral homilies it is so important because we are ultimately dealing with eternal life. You know the stakes are high! It is eternal life or it is nothing! Jesus says, “Unless you go through me you will not reach the Father.” It is only through Him that we get to know God. I think it is important for us to reflect on that. Do we know Him? When Jesus started the Church and sent His Holy Spirit upon the Church, He didn’t give the Church a roadmap. He didn’t give the Church a plan. Sometimes people will say Jesus did not intend to found the Church. Well He did. He is still working in the Church. He did not give us a roadmap. He gave us the promise that He will be with us always. That with Him, He will continue to lead and to guide us.

I want you to think about a few ways that we know whether or not we are with Him. First of all, the most profound way that we can encounter Jesus in this life is right here at the Eucharist. The catechism says that our dispositions matter. You know the way we approach Mass really impacts whether or not we will come to know Him and experience Him. If you come to Mass and are bored, and yawning, and want to just get out of here, go to Communion, and want to get back to your car, you don’t know Him. You really don’t. If we come to Mass and we are yearning to experience and hear Him in The Gospel, and we want to receive Him into our hearts and into our lives, then we truly do know Him and love Him. We will experience heaven not only on this Earth but in eternal life to come.

The first way is to just pay attention to our disposition at Mass. Do we come here really expecting to encounter Him and to receive Him? Or are we just going through the motions? If we are just going through the motions, we are not experiencing Him. First, the Mass and the Eucharistic. The way we encounter Jesus and come to know Him in this life is the only way we are going to get to heaven. It is by knowing Him and receiving Him.

The second way, I think is through daily prayer. It is only after a whole lifetime of spending intimate time and prayer. That is one of the greatest things I have been given as a priest, the love and yearning for prayer. Hopefully for those of you that just did “Prayed40Days,” you experienced Him in some way. You experienced a deep and profound relationship with Him. The second way is through prayer. We spend time in prayer daily, deep intense prayer with Him. The intense kind of meditative and contemplative prayer because that is where we really get to know Him and fall in love with Him.

The third way, I would encourage adoration. We are blessed here to have Eucharistic adoration every Sunday night after 5 o’clock Mass. We have adoration until around 8:30 p.m. and then night prayer. Then on Friday mornings, we have adoration until 11:00 a.m. Mass. I encourage you to spend time in adoration because when you spend time with Jesus, just looking at Him and allowing Him to look at you, you will come to know the way, the truth, and the life. If you can’t make adoration, the church is always open. You can come and pray before the Blessed Sacrament and be in His presence. Or go to another church that has perpetual adoration. I encourage you to do that.

The first way is to really come consciously to Mass to be aware so you can experience Him and you can actually receive Him at every Mass. The second way is to realize in our daily prayer, intimate prayer, we come to know Him and love Him in a profound way. The third way is through adoration. Just being with Him, gazing at Him, and allowing Him to look at us. The truth is, He does not give you a roadmap either. I don’t have a roadmap that tells me exactly what to do every day with my life. The only map that we have is being in union with Him. When we are in union with Him, everything we do, are a part of, wherever we go, all of a sudden it is the right way. There is the truth and there is the life.

I encourage you to do whatever you can to nurse and foster a union with Him while we are still here on this Earth. Then one day you can be with Him in heaven. He said the most powerful lines in all of history that are so true, “I am the way, the truth, and the life, and no one comes to the Father except through Me.”

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.

follow me on:

Get Fr. Michael's Latest Homilies & Reflections Delivered Directly to Your Inbox

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.