No Passwords for Heaven

Bishop Thomas J. Tobin

One of the plagues of our modern, technological society is the need to have and remember passwords. The dreaded passwords are required to log on to your computer, smartphone, social media accounts, banking transactions, and any other online accounts you’ve established. An article in Forbes Magazine estimates that, on average, each of us has 27 discrete passwords.

But, how to remember all of those passwords? You’ve had that struggle, right? There are various sites that allow you to keep all of your passwords securely collected in one place, but to access those sites, you need . . . a password!

In the midst of this magic-wand world, I wonder if some folks think that entry into heaven is just a matter of having the right password. “Not so fast,” Jesus taught. “Not everyone who says to me ‘Lord, Lord’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven.” (Mt 7:21) In other words, you won’t get into heaven simply by saying the right words, or embracing a few little religious rituals.

I think of my Aunt Gert, my mom’s sister, one of the more colorful and beloved members of our family. Aunt Gert was a really good and loving soul, but wasn’t in the habit of going to Mass. “I don’t need to go to church,” she explained. “My nephew’s a priest and I’ll just mention his name when I get to heaven.” It was Aunt Gert’s version of the Rhode Island mantra, “I know a guy.”

Jesus says that to enter the kingdom of heaven you have to do the will of his Father. And what is the will of his Father? Well, simply put, it is to love God, love our neighbor, obey the Commandments, repent of sin, and grow in holiness, every day. In other words, to have a strong and active faith.

I worry about people, especially so many young people these days, who have no faith and make no room for God in their daily lives. I wonder, do they ever think about the salvation of their souls? Does the reality of the final judgment ever cross their minds? “Not everyone who says “Lord, Lord’ will enter the kingdom of heaven,” Jesus warned.

Something to think about: Will Jesus recognize you, and welcome you, when you stand before him at the gate of heaven?