How Do You Get to Heaven?

Is 66:10-14 / Gal 6:14-18 / Lk 10:1-12, 17-20 or 10:1-9 

Who made me? God made me. Why did He make me? To know Him, to love Him, and to serve Him in this world and to be happy with Him forever in Heaven.

Many of you may remember these as the first two questions of the Baltimore Catechism. They are, in my humble and, therefore, correct opinion, the two most profound and important questions that a person can ask himself. Every Catholic should have to know the answers to these two questions because they teach us the most fundamental truths of our faith.

The reason these two questions are so important, and the reason why they were the first things that a child learned about the faith, is that they teach us everything we need to know about life: they tell us whence we came, whither we go, and what to do along the way.

 

God made me to know Him, to love Him, and to serve Him in this world and to be happy with Him forever in Heaven. So whence did we come? We came from God. He made us, which means that He knows best how we work.

If we pick up a mechanism that we've never seen before and we want to know how it works, where do we go to find the answer? We go back to the creator, to the one who made it. He, of all people, should know best how it works; what it's supposed to do; what it's not supposed to do; what's good for it; and what's bad for it.

Well, God made us. He is our Creator, so He knows best how we work. He knows best what we're supposed to do, and what we're not supposed to do. He knows best what's good for us and what's bad for us.

So often we see God's commandments as restrictions upon our freedom, restrictions upon our fun. But a mechanic is not restricting our freedom when he tells us not to put water in the gas tank. Tech support is not restricting our freedom when they tell us not to spill coke on the keyboard. The repairman is not restricting our freedom when he tells us not to put metal in the microwave. A gas tank full of water is not fun. A keyboard soaking in coke is not fun. An exploding microwave is not fun. We do not lose freedom from following those rules, we gain true freedom from observing them because they conform to the design of those objects.

So when the Creator teaches us that pride and covetousness, envy and anger, lust, gluttony, and sloth are deadly sins, sins that kill our soul, He does not do so to restrict our freedom or take away our fun. He does so because He made us and He knows best what will bring us the eternal fulfilment after which we seek.

So what is that eternal fulfilment? Whither are we going? Well, God made us to know Him, to love Him, and to serve Him in this world and to be happy with Him forever in Heaven. So our ultimate destination is Heaven. Our ultimate happiness exists in Heaven, not here on earth.

Christ reminded the seventy-two disciples of this at the end of today's gospel: "Nevertheless, do not rejoice because the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice because your names are written in heaven" (Lk 10: 20). As Christ's appointed messengers, the seventy-two were rejoicing at the fact that they had power over demons. They had been given a great gift by the Lord. But Christ understood well their fallen human nature. He knew that they had a propensity toward the sin of pride — that deadly sin that so quickly kills the soul, that so quickly separates us from the love of God and our heavenly goal. Christ knew well our weakness for this sin, so He immediately warns them: "do not rejoice because the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice because your names are written in heaven." In other words, keep your eyes on the prize. Don't let the joys of this life separate you from eternal bliss.

We may get a foretaste of supernatural joy in this life, but that foretaste is merely meant to whet our appetites, to draw us closer to God. It is a means to an end, not an end in itself. The way that Satan tricks us is to convince us that the joys of this life are our ultimate goal. So he tricks us into worshipping idols: worshipping money; worshipping physical beauty; worshipping athletic prowess; worshipping carnal pleasures. Instead of using these gifts as a means to our ultimate end, instead of using them according to God's design, instead of using them for His greater glory and not our own, we are tempted by Satan into seeing them as an end in themselves. He tempts us into using them according to our own disordered passions for our own praise and glory. But we are not made for the pleasures of the flesh, as St. Paul would put it, but rather for the eternal pleasures of the spirit. God made us to be happy with Him forever in Heaven. Once we know that, then we can ask ourselves before every conscious choice, before every human act, "Will this bring me closer to Heaven?"

"Will eating this dessert bring me closer to Heaven? Or will it be an act of gluttony?"

"Will buying this dress bring me closer to Heaven? Or is it too revealing, too immodest?"

"Will watching this movie bring me closer to Heaven? Or will it fill my mind with impure thoughts?"

"Will marrying this man bring me closer to Heaven? Or will he test my faith?"

"Will dating this girl bring me closer to Heaven? Or will she lead me into temptation?"

These are the questions we ask ourselves once we realize that God made us to be happy with Him forever in Heaven.

So, then, how do we get to Heaven? That is, how do we come to know God? What does it truly mean to love God? And how does He ask us to serve Him?

Keep reading these homilies to find out.

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