By Pat Amobi Chukwuma
Few days ago, I was behind the steering heading to my destination when I looked casually at my right hand side and saw an amazing sign-post with this conspicuous inscription: Heaven at Last Supermarket. Opportunity, they say, comes but once. So, without any waste of time, I marched on my car’s break system abruptly, which produced an awkward sound. The people around shouted anxiously with their hands placed perpendicularly at the back of their heads.
Thank God no vehicle was following me closely. I packed the car beside the road without winding the glass up or locking the car. Even I left the key on the ignition. What I saw was more valuable than the car. My anxiety to go to heaven surpasses everything. Saint Paul did not mince words when he describes heaven as what no eyes have seen, no ear has heard nor has it been imagined what God prepared for those who love him (1 Cor. 2:9). Could you believe that what was being sought in the upper cupboard was found in the lower cupboard? Hence I convinced myself that I must not miss this golden opportunity of seeing the heaven in the supermarket. I hastily went to see just as Moses went to behold the burning bush which was not consumed.
As I was happily stepping into the supermarket, I was singing: “Joy! Joy!! Joy!!! Heaven is full of joy!” The supermarket attendants and customers were looking at me as if I was wearing my cassock wrongly. Some of them were laughing, but I didn’t mind. I just rushed into the Heaven at Last Supermarket and curiously searched for the Heaven through the width and breadth of the enormous shop. I was taken aback when I noticed that the commodities displayed on the shelves were the usual worldly things. I sighed despairingly.
Observing the dissatisfaction and hopelessness written on my face, the manager of the supermarket left his seat and came to me and asked, “Man of God, can I help you? Why are you downcast? I can see the despair written on your face. What actually are you searching for?” I replied, “Man of the world, is this not the Heaven at Last Supermarket? I want to buy the heaven itself. Please show me where it is displayed. I am ready to buy it at any cost.” He sarcastically laughed at me and uttered, “Man of God, you ought to know better. Heaven is not for sale. The Heaven at Last Supermarket written on our sign-post means that we buy and sell things here with the fear of God and the hope of attaining heaven at last. In other words, we do not cheat here. Also we do not sell expired commodities. We make only minimum gain by selling at control prices. A trial will convince you.” My face brightened at those words of the manager. I warmly embraced him saying, “Indeed, you are not far from the Kingdom of God. By so doing you are also a man of God. Keep it on.” He joyfully complimented, “Man of God, your coming here today is a double blessing. Thank you. Please come again!” Before leaving I bought a bottle of sparkling red wine and a special loaf of bread to sparkle my body for the resurrection and for heaven at last.
The Catechism of Christian Doctrine enunciates that God created us to love Him, to serve Him here on earth and to be happy with Him forever in Heaven. Just as some individuals have double citizenship here on earth, we all have double citizenship of earth and heaven. Our citizenship here on earth is temporal while the heavenly citizenship is eternal. The biblical story of the rich man and Lazarus (Luke 16:19 – 31) portrays the ephemeral life here on earth and the glorious life beyond. When the rich man was eating and drinking lavishly, he thought that this earth was paradise. Thereby he failed to give a little to the poor Lazarus who struggled with dogs for the scraps that feel from the master’s table. He committed the sin of omission.
At last Lazarus died and went to heaven. Also the rich man died and went to hell.
While being tormented in hellfire, the rich man looked up and saw Lazarus happily sitting at the bosom of Abraham in heaven. The fire of hell made the rich man felt so thirsty.
Consequently, he asked Abraham to ask Lazarus to dip his finger in water and drop it from there into his tongue in order to quench his thirst. Indeed, no condition is permanent. Abraham turned down the rich man’s request for he was enjoying himself on earth without showing charity to the less privileged. Those who are enjoying life today should know that tomorrow exists. Those in power today, who neglect the protection of lives and provision of basic needs to the people, should learn from the touching story of the rich man and Lazarus. I state categorically that Lazarus went to heaven not because he was poor but because he was a good man. On the other hand, the rich man did not go to hell because he was rich but because he failed to perform a Corporal work of mercy (feeding the hungry).
The seven Corporal Works of Mercy are: to feed the hungry, the give drink to the thirsty, to clothe the naked, to visit the sick, to visit the imprisoned, to provide for the homeless, and to bury the dead. On the other hand, the seven Spiritual Works of Mercy include: To convert the sinner, to instruct the ignorant, to counsel the doubtful, to comfort the sorrowful, to bear wrongs patiently, to forgive injuries, and to pray for the living and the dead. One who keeps all the Commandments of God but lacks in charity may miss heaven. Here we remember the young man who came to Jesus Christ and asked, “Good Master, what must I do to have eternal life?” (Mark 10:17). Jesus told him to keep the Commandments of God. The anxious young man hopefully replied that he has kept them right from his childhood. Then Jesus looked lovingly at him and said, “For you, one thing is lacking. Go, sell what you have and give the money to the poor, and you will have riches in heaven. Then come and follow me” (Mk 10:21). Sadly, the young man’s face failed and he went away hopelessly. On the judgment seat of God we must give account of the corporal and spiritual works of mercy we did or failed to do here on earth (Mtt. 25: 31 – 46).
Entrance into heaven will be strictly on merit. Each and every one of us must present his or her Certificate of Good deeds. Swearing of Affidavits of having done well on earth will not be accepted at all. In Nigeria one can become governor, lawmaker or president without certificate. God as the sole righteous Judge cannot be compromised or bribed like some Nigerian judges. He alone is incorruptible. Once God gives the verdict, there is no appeal. Rigging of oneself into heaven and other forms of malpractice are impossible. Only those whose names are found in the Book of Life shall enter heaven (Rev. 21:27). Is your name or my name in it? Delay is dangerous because “anyone whose name is not found in the Book of Life will be cast into the lake of fire” (Rev. 20:15).
The last three things awaiting all of us are death, judgment, heaven or hell. Where will you and I spend our eternity? Our final degree will be R.I.P. For some, it will be Rest in Peace while for others it will be Rest in Pieces. Those who rest in peace will enjoy heaven at last. On the contrary, it will be hell at last for those who rest in pieces.
For the coming few weeks, I wish to excuse myself. I want to pay God a courtesy visit in heaven and experience a bit of the Beatific Vision. If you have any letter for God, let it reach me on or before the next weekend. I hope to be back soonest. Kindly pray for my journey mercy. However, my handicap is where to get a direct flight to heaven. Please if you know, kindly inform me as soon you finish reading this piece. I wish you heaven at last.