How much would you be willing to pay for a guaranteed place in heaven? How much for a ticket that would assure you that the gates would swing wide open for you immediately after your death?
Believe it or not, there is such a ticket. You can be guaranteed a place in heaven. The price? It is high but attainable for everyone who reads this message. It has been in the writings of the Old Testament as far back as the time of Moses.
Does all this sound like a high-pressure sales pitch, the kind you hear on television every day? Perhaps it is. Listen to today’s message and see if you don’t come to the same conclusion. The message is so clear and so forthright that it is hard to escape, provided you are listening.
We must love God with all our heart, with our whole soul, and with our mind as well. But there is more. We must love others as we love ourselves. Everything else rests on these two laws of the Old Testament, Jesus told his listeners. Obedience to them opens up heaven’s gates. This is an old message; it is at the heart of Jesus’ teaching as well, except that He offers Himself as the fulfillment of this Old Testament commandment, "love one another as I have loved you" (John Chapter 13: 34). By offering himself as the embodiment of the Old Testament commandment, Jesus personalizes this message for us. If you want to know how to love God or one another, just ask yourself: what would Jesus do.
Our worship is phony if we are not united or connected to others. Lacking love of neighbor, our love of God is make-believe. Loving God is loving neighbor and loving neighbor is loving God.
The Gospel calls on us to practice this dual love by seeking justice and peace for the "least" of our brethren (Matthew Chapter 25:40): those trapped in poverty; those in abused and abusing relationships; the unemployed; the victims of terrorism and war; those suffering from prejudice because of race, age, sex, or creed. All of these people are our neighbors.
Talking about love is not enough, it does not exist in the abstract. The Gospel calls for an active love; a love that participates in the full life of the community; namely, the family, the neighborhood, the city, the nation, and the world.
As imitators of Jesus, we are called to act compassionately: to develop and nourish a sympathetic awareness of others’ needs; to surrender our comfort zone in order to share in the pain of those who suffer; to act "with passion" on behalf of all our neighbors; to love one another as Jesus has loved us.
To live by this rule is the ticket to heaven.
Fr. Hugh Duffy holds a Ph.D. from the University of Hull, England. Born in Donegal, Ireland, he was ordained in 1966 in Dublin, Ireland. He is pastor emeritus of Sacred Heart Catholic Church, Okeechobee, Florida, where he served for 30 years and built a new Church, debt-free, in 2013. He founded Christian Community Action (CCA) in Ireland that built housing for seniors, a sheltered workshop and bakery for people with disabilities, a community center, and an addiction treatment center. Since 2013 he has traveled across America as an Outreach Priest for Cross Catholic Outreach, Inc. Duffy’s recent book, "What is This Thing Called Faith?" is a collection of meditations with reflections for readers on the sayings of Jesus. For more of his reports — Click Here Now.
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