Who will go to Heaven? In John 6:37-40, Jesus gives us a hint.
Jesus said to the crowds:
“Everything that the Father gives me will come to me,
and I will not reject anyone who comes to me,
because I came down from heaven not to do my own will
but the will of the one who sent me.
And this is the will of the one who sent me,
that I should not lose anything of what he gave me,
but that I should raise it on the last day.
For this is the will of my Father,
that everyone who sees the Son and believes in him
may have eternal life,
and I shall raise him on the last day.”
Today’s reading commemorates All Souls Day, when we remember all the faithful departed. If we wonder if someone who has departed will have reached Heaven, this reading should console us. If we wonder if we will reach Heaven, this should also console us.
The key sentences are “I will not reject anyone who comes to me” and “this is the will of my Father, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him may have eternal life, and I shall raise him on the last day.”
They assume faith. They assume that in that faith the person has acted accordingly, not just spoken — walked the walked, not just talked the talk, so to speak. Although there is likely something to the idea of the last minute conversion before death.
Who gets to enter Heaven, then? By everything we read in the Gospels, you must come to Jesus; you must see the Son and believe in Him. According to the Beatitudes, you will be the poor of spirit and be persecuted for the sake of righteousness. In other places, you must give up your obsession with wealth and possessions, selling them and giving the proceeds to the poor and then follow Jesus; you must not judge and you must not condemn, removing the beam from your own eye before you try to remove the splinter from the eye of another; you must seek not to be the master but the servant to others, putting them first and serving the least among us; and you must not just observe God’s laws, but more important you must love God above all else and love your neighbor as yourself.
Those seem like pretty demanding entry requirements. But if we are Christians like we say we are, and if we believe in Jesus like we say we do, if we “know” Jesus, all these things are what it means to “come to” Jesus and “see the Son and believe in Him.”
Jesus said, “It is not easy for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of Heaven.” It seems it isn’t easy for one weak in faith to enter the Kingdom of Heaven, either. Or one weak in will. Or one weak in purpose or passion or intention.
Lots of people claim to “know” Jesus. We can’t know what is in their hearts, but actions say much about what we truly believe. Faith isn’t actions alone, but neither is faith words alone. Jesus knows and He will raise the truly faithful on the last day.