4th Sunday in Lent
Chronicles 36:14-16,19-23; Eph. 2:4-10; Gospel John 3:14-21
“A Vision of Heaven & Hell – True story” – Eternal

Preached by Msgr Philip Heng, SJ at Cathedral of the Good Shepherd - Singapore, on 11 March 2018

In today’s Gospel Jesus says, “. . . everyone who believes in Him may not be lost but may have eternal life.  But, whoever refuses to believe is condemned already.” . . . that is, we bring condemnation upon ourselves through our own choices and decisions in our lives. 

My brothers and sisters in Christ, you and I have heard these words of Jesus many times and believe this Good News.  Yet, many of us are not able to live out this Good News of Jesus, because we seem to be too caught up by the daily needs and busyness of our secular world, so much so that we live with the attitude that whatever is going to happen to us after we die does not seem to be too important.  Many of us even justify our secular living by saying to ourselves, “No worries, God in His Mercy will forgive me and eventually, I believe I will make it to heaven.  Still, there are many of us too, who seem to live with the attitude that death is something “faraway” . . . and we should not worry too much about what is going to happen to us when we die; let the “devotees” be concerned about such things.

Meanwhile, if we are to have such attitudes in the living of our faith, the tendency for us is to become preoccupied with the material, financial and social matters of life, and push God into the background of our lives as though He is a “secondary and optional” need of life and “heaven and hell” are concerns only when we are on our dying bed, and looking for a priest to give us the “Last Sacrament for the sick and dying”, so that he can send us back to God.

It would perhaps be fruitful, if we draw our reflection on today’s Gospel readings on the gift of eternal life, with a real life story of Melea.  And this is what she shares.  On October 2014 my sister was very sick after having a stroke and I prayed earnestly for her . . . while praying I suddenly felt the Lord’s fire within me . . . I found myself in a vision of heaven.  I saw myself being awakened by the Lord’s glorious light . . .  I felt a joy that was beyond anything that I have experienced before.  The Lord, then put His right hand on me and said with a still, loving voice, “My daughter Melea, my pure-hearted daughter,  I am glad you made it here!  I have been waiting for you., I have so many things to show you.  Come!  Stand up!”  Then I got up and held His hand.  The scene before me was too awesomely beautiful to describe fully.   I noticed I was like a 12 year-old girl. I was wearing a pure white long dress.  I soaked in the splendour; we found ourselves walking along a crystal clear river.  The Lord then said, “My daughter, drink.“  Then I drank with my hands.  Its taste was so good!  I have never drunk water as sweet and as soothing as this!  I experienced great joy and peace in my heart!  Afterwards He said, “I know you love swimming.  Come, submerge into the water!” I smiled and I submerged myself.  While submersed in the water, I can see different kinds of sea creatures, fishes, turtles, and they were alive!  They were talking and praising the Lord.  I noticed my clothes were not wet at all.  Jesus smiled at me (I can’t see His face, but I know His lips moved every time He smiled).  Then He picked a rose that looks like a diamond.  It was shining in brilliance!  I was truly so amazed as it bowed unto Our Lord!  Jesus then gave it to me.  I held the rose and had an indescribable joy!

As we walk and watch in splendour, I can see that this place is truly exhilarating!  I can’t find words to fully describe the experience!  I don’t want to wake up anymore!  I saw two big rainbows on a soft blue sky.  They were radiant colours of all sorts, some unfamiliar to me.  I saw upright trees, which were greenish and were also unfamiliar to me.  I also noticed that we were walking on a golden path, filled with gem stones and the like around.  Such a magnificent scene!  Afterwards we walked on grass that was so green.  Then, we got through a nice sculptured bench with a touch of gold.  We sat there for a moment and started conversing, I told Jesus that I want to be in this heavenly place and be here with Him forever.   

Then the Lord showed me something in just one swipe of His hand, I saw Hell.  I saw the appalling condition of the lost souls, demons heartlessly tormenting people with sharp spears and sharp tools!  I saw people burning in a pit in such horrible and dreadful ways and another I saw people falling from the gates of Hell.  There were thousands of them!  I heard them screaming in terror! The Lord then spoke to me, “My daughter, can you see how souls have to suffer in hell?” I was terrified and said, “My Lord and I don’t want to see them anymore.  I have seen enough of Hell to know how horrible it is, and it is too dreadful.  I don’t want to see demons and the people screaming in excruciating pain anymore.  But, the Lord said in a sweet voice, “We need to see this place as many people do not believe that Hell exist.  I need you to testify that this place of suffering after life on earth, truly exist.  My heart started to ache, and I began breathing in an unusual way.  “Don’t be frightened, my daughter, I will be close by you and will never leave you.  I love your so much.  So, do not fear.”  Upon hearing this, I experienced once again, an unspeakable joy!  The Lord then continued, “You must always pray, worship and read My Words.  You must constantly seek My Presence.  The devil will do everything to hinder you.  You must be vigilant and always remember that I am here with you.  I love you so much, My daughter.

When the vision ended, and when my eyes opened slowly, I realised that my life, my family, my relatives and the many unbelievers that I know continue to live a life of blindness to this truth about heaven and hell. 

My brothers and sisters in Chist, as Christians, heaven is a reward and our true dwelling place; where our Christian citizenship finds its fullest glory and reward after our life on earth; heaven is the inheritance and the divine gift that God wants to give you and me, and all who believe in Him.  In the Gospel of John 14:1-2 before Jesus began His Passion, He assured His apostles, “Do not let your hearts be troubled.  Trust in God still, and trust in Me.  There are many rooms in my Father’s house; if there we not, I should have told you.”  So, heaven is also the end of our exile on earth caused by sin, since Adam and Eve, but now restored in our relationship with God, though Jesus, who through His death and resurrection, once again opened the gates of heaven, that all who believe and live the Good News with fidelity, will receive the divine gift of eternal happiness; where we will once again, for those of us who live a life of grace, we will then live the perfect life with the Holy Trinity and be able to see God “face to face” forever. 

While the vision of Melea, gives us a glimpse of heaven, let us not forget that Melea too had a glimpse of hell and its horrific torments.  In the Old Testament, hell is Hebrew is called “Gehenna”; a place of eternal torment and suffering for the damned, and strewn with those who rebel against the Lord, and where Prophet Isaiah (66:24) describes, “for their worm shall not die, their fire shall not be quenched, and they shall be an abhorrence to all flesh.” In the New Testament, hell, or Gehenna, is mentioned twelve times, with unquenchable and perpetual fires; a pit and a place of unspeakable misery.

In other words, my sisters and brothers in Christ, as I conclude, let us first remember certain fundamental truths of our faith and the reality of what can happen to us, if we do not heed the Words of Jesus who reminds us that if we believe in Him and live the fullness of the faith, we will gain eternal life and happiness, but if we reject the Good News and choose to turn away from God, then we bring condemnation upon ourselves. 

First, let us be reminded that “heaven” is truly such a beautiful place of Glory with God; and the story of Melea, gives us a glimpse of how words cannot fully describe its infinite peace, joy and happiness and beauty – just to be with God.  And this is for all eternity.  Are we saying to ourselves that we prefer to exchange such eternal happiness with the passing and transitory pleasures of this world? 

Second, note too equally that the opposite of heaven is the eternal sufferings and torments that we bring upon ourselves, if we continue to choose to reject God and His Mercy and Love, and continue to quarrel shamefully over money, power, glory and glamour.  Did Jesus not remind us, “What does it profit a man, if he gains the whole world and loses the gift of eternal life?”

Finally, my brother and sisters in Christ, let us pray for the gift of wisdom to value the divine gift of heaven and not to take this precious gift of eternal life for granted, and be caught up in the materialistic and secular fantasies of this world that does not last AND often bring division and destruction to families when we put such passing gains and glory, comfort before loving God, and our neighbour, as God Wills of you and of me.  It is not worth it!  Let us pray for the wisdom to Glorify God in our daily living throughout our lives . . . and we will surely experience the deepest PEACE, JOY, FULFILLMENT AND HAPPINESS, not only in this life, but in the life to come, after we die, for all eternity.

(Ref. Adapted from: Story by iyah_Godschosen; 1st testimony – I visited Heaven, have seen Hell); www.wattpad.com/158279169-i-saw-heaven-and-hell-my-real-life-story-1st.

Fr Philip Heng,S.J.

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