Jesus Christ loves us so much that He warns us in this Sunday’s Gospel about Gehenna
(the Greek word for Hell). Jesus warns us because He is our Lord and Savior, and our
friend. Jesus knows that we, His disciples, can only reach eternal happiness by His
grace, through friendship with Him, the Second Person of the Holy Trinity of God
the Father, Son and Holy Spirit (Matthew 5:17-37).
In His infinite love for us, Jesus warns us about what could damage or hinder our
relationship with Him – for although nothing can separate us from His love, our sinful
actions could lead us to eternity spent without Him (some sins are deadly/mortal, 1 John 5). An eternity without God is what we call Hell – an indescribably painful prospect because we, as children of God, were created to live in communion with God forever in Heaven. Jesus loves us, always. Therefore, He tells us the truth, including the tough truth about Heaven and Hell, because we need to know it.
Saint Paul encourages us this Sunday about God’s magnificent, wise, loving, divine plan for us – a plan to follow that will bring us to Heaven, which is beyond our imagination (1 Corinthians 2:6-10). Just as Hell, eternal separation from God, is a reality worth being warned about, so Heaven, eternal love, peace and joy, and unimaginable fulfillment in God, is a reality worth being encouraged about for everyone who desires to follow Jesus.
As Jesus instructs us and Saint Paul encourages us, when we’re aware that our earthly
life is a pilgrimage to eternity, we will then put in the right perspective all our life
experiences, including our successes, failures, joys and sorrows. We will more readily
do what God tells us to do: keep His Commandments; live the virtues of faith, hope
and love; stay close to Him in prayer, His Church, Word and Sacraments; seek the
intercession and example of the saints; and more readily help others follow Jesus by
doing spiritual and corporal works of mercy (see Matthew 25 for corporal works of
mercy, which include helping the hungry, thirsty and homeless). Spiritual works of
mercy include: instructing the ignorant to help them learn that they need God to
truly live; admonishing sinners so they will turn away from sin and seek God’s healing,
forgiveness and mercy; counseling the doubtful to renew their trust in Jesus; comforting the sorrowful, so that they experience Jesus Christ’s healing presence; bearing wrongs patiently, as God will right all wrongs in time; forgiving injuries, as forgiveness leads to healing and spiritual growth (see Matthew 5:17-37); praying for the living and the dead, asking God to lead others to Heaven as we strive to follow Him.
Jesus Christ has opened the path to Heaven for us. He is the Way, the Truth and the
Life, yesterday, today and forever. He wants us to follow Him, to steer clear of Hell.
By His grace, may we follow Him and help others do the same, in our love for God
and our neighbor.
With peace and prayers in Christ,