In the last few years, we have all been reminded of the certainty of death. Although we know death is a reality for everyone, most of us live as if it’s not a concern. We live as if we are guaranteed tomorrow and rarely think about death. However, Jesus teaches us differently. He warns us of the consequences of sin. We are not guaranteed tomorrow. We are not guaranteed heaven.
We often find ourselves standing by the graveside of loved ones and uttering “he’s in a better place now” or “she’s not suffering any more”. How many times have we stood with a casket and said, “we will see them again”? The truth is not everyone goes to heaven. Hell is a reality and although we do not like to think of our loved ones being in hell, the truth is it exist, and it has mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, wives, and husbands in it.
“Preachers, catechists, teachers….no longer have the courage to preach the threat of hell,” said St. Pope John Paul II in his book Crossing the Threshold of Hope.
It is crucial that we understand the reality, finality, and truth of hell and we take it serious enough to share that truth with those we love. In fact, we should be sharing it with everyone we encounter when the doors of opportunity come our way because Jesus desired for everyone to go to heaven but taught the truth that not everyone will make it.
“It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into hell, where the worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched.” (Mark 9:47-48)
Although there are not many Catholic leaders who will warn about the reality of hell, the Church still teaches its existence and truth.
“Immediately after death the souls of those who die in a state of mortal sin descend into hell, where they suffer the punishments of hell, eternal fire. The chief punishment of hell is eternal separation from God, in whom alone man can possess the life and happiness for which he was created and for which he longs.” (CCC 1035)
If we lived as if hell were real, then the confessionals would be full each day. If we lived like hell was a reality and an eternal consequence for sin, then adoration chapels would be packed. If we lived like hell was forever, then our lives would reflect Jesus to the world rather than reflect the world into the Church.
We cannot wait for our priest, bishop, or the pope to begin warning people about hell and the consequences of mortal sin. We must begin to share the truth with our family, friends, neighbors, and church parishioners. We must live a life that reflects there are consequences for sin. We must live as if not everyone goes to heaven because hell is full of people who did not make it.
If you want to get to heaven, repentance must be a daily part of your life.