Winning the Only Contest that Matters

I will spend at least five minutes today imagining what heaven will be like
by Father James Swanson, LC | Source: Catholic.net
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Matthew 5:1-12a

Introductory Prayer: 
Lord, I believe in you with a faith that never seeks to test you. I trust in you, hoping to learn to accept and follow your will, even when it does not make sense to the way that I see things. I love you, and I want to love you and those around me with a love similar to the love you have shown to me.

Petition: 
Lord, help me accept sacrifices and overcome difficulties in order to gain heaven.

1. The Beatitudes Don't Make Sense: 
As we celebrate the Solemnity of All Saints Day, the Church calls us to contemplate the promises Jesus makes to all those who follow him. At first, they don't seem very attractive. Jesus lists a whole series of things that most people would probably avoid. They would see them as interfering with their wants and desires, Yet, Jesus says that we will be blessed if we have them in our lives. The word in the original Greek is makarios, which means happy. This doesn't make sense. I am supposed to be happy when I am poor, mourning, meek, lacking righteousness, merciful, clean-hearted, a peacemaker, persecuted and insulted? Thats not what I see on TV, in the movies, on the Internet. It's not what many of the people I know would advise me. So what is Jesus big idea telling me this? Is he out to make me miserable?

2. Sacrificing for Worldly Glory: 
We can see that the whole picture isn't gloomy. Jesus says that if we accept these difficult things, there will be rewards. And the rewards sound pretty good. In fact, they sound great: the Kingdom of Heaven, comfort, inheriting the land, satisfaction in seeing righteousness done, receiving mercy, seeing God, being a child of God, a great reward in heaven. Who wouldn't want these things? Don't people work a lot harder for a lot less? Don't athletes train for years, giving up all kinds of pleasures, submitting themselves to intense suffering at times only for a brief moment of glory in some competition? Don't businessmen work long hours, giving up pleasures and making immense sacrifices just to make a few more dollars? Isn't what Jesus offers us much better than any of that? Better than a gold medal or even a million dollars?

3. But I Am Not Interested in Heavenly Things: 
Anything worth having is worth making sacrifices for, and the more it is worth, the greater sacrifices we should be willing to make for it. Perhaps a gold medal is worth the sacrifices the athlete makes to win it. Perhaps a million dollars are worth the sacrifices that a businessman makes to gain them. If heaven is really all it is supposed to be, isn't it worth all the sacrifices Jesus mentions here ñ and more? If people are willing to make such great sacrifices to gain things they cannot keep, shouldn't I be willing to make even greater sacrifices to gain the eternal happiness of heaven? Of course, many people with the talent to do great things in this world never do them because they just aren't that interested or motivated. Is that why I don't do more to gain heaven? Just not that interested? What will it take to motivate me to really desire what Jesus offers?

Conversation with Christ: 
Dear Jesus, I don't do much to make the Beatitudes come to life in me.  
Help me to give heaven its full value. 
Help me to desire it more each day. 
Help me to meditate on what heaven will be like 
so I will love it more and more and be willing 
to do anything whatever it takes 
to get there and help many others arrive as well.

Resolution: 
I will spend at least five minutes today imagining what heaven will be like. What would I like heaven to be like? Jesus is setting up a mansion there for me. He is going to put everything that he can in it to please me and make me happy. Spend some time imagining what he would put there to surprise and delight me. He will go far beyond my wildest imaginations, but by dedicating some time to this today, I will increase my desire for heaven and to make the  sacrifices necessary to get there.


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