Part 5 in the series, My Summer Vacation 2010
Juan Diego and I walked solemnly out of Christ’s house. I didn’t want to leave because I had so much to ask Him. How could He expect me to awaken His comfortably sleeping sheep if they don’t want to wake-up? I wondered if I was being sent on an impossible mission. Again I thought of the man who asked Abraham to send Lazarus to warn his brother about hell.
So immersed in thought was I that I did not pay much attention to the happy people around me or to where we were going. My heart was heavy. Imagine that. There I was in heaven trying to figure out how to keep Christ from losing his beloved sheep who worship with their lips and not their hearts? Am I my brother’s keeper? To attempt to correct the vain is an excellent way to make enemies. Then I thought about the proverb that says that a wise man will accept correction, but a fool will only hate you. Perhaps Christ knows that there are a few wise men among the vain, and it is those I must seek out at my peril. To abandon this call would be cowardly, surely deserving of doom.
This is no vacation, I thought, it is like waking up to a living nightmare. I felt as if I was about to fall off a cliff. Where is that guidance and encouragement He promised?
Exhausted by my fretting I tried to clear my mind and simply enjoy the light and abundant joyful life surrounding me. After all, I was among the elite successful. I wanted to absorb as much of their strength as I could. I never expected people in Heaven would have bodies until I remembered that when Christ came back from the dead and ate fish and honey, He said that He wasn’t a spirit. Looking around I noticed that the people in Heaven seemed to be from every country in the world. I saw Orientals, other Asians like Israelites and Russians, and I saw Europeans, Eskimos, Africans, Hispanics, Indians and Native Americans. There were also plenty of people who carried in their genes delightful combinations of all races. Maybe they were all Americans or all Catholics I thought with a chuckle!
Jumping right out of my internal musings, I looked over at Juan Diego and asked, “Where are all the people who have died but who aren’t here in Heaven?” and without waiting for his reply I added, “Will I see my parents and my grandfathers. I want so much to see them again. Are they here?”
“For the most part,” he replied, “non-residents of Heaven are doing what they had been doing their entire lives that kept them from being here, those who cursed are cursing, those who thought only of themselves are still thinking only of themselves. Those who spent all day judging everyone around them are still judging everyone around them. We are all waiting for the end of time, but they aren’t as free and happy as these Heaveners. Most of them, I’m afraid, are suffering as much if not more than they did on earth. But there is hope for them at the Great Judgment, and so they wait and hope. Those who are lucky enough to be prayed-for are being refreshed and have the greatest chance of making it in the end.”
Just as he said those words, Juan Diego and I turned a corner which opened onto an immaculately manicured park full of colorful flowers where a bearded man stood up from his bench and walked over to greet us.
“Hello, I am Peter of Damaskos. The Lord received reports of your fretting and sent me to help you. You overestimate what is expected of you my friend. Simply try harder to be a good example to others; first you must live it before you can teach it. You don’t need to be confrontational and argumentative. Identify your mark and pray, making corrective comments gently but consistently.
Then pray for those who you have distressed and those who distress you. Whatever you do, do not harbor the least trace of rancor as rancor weakens your soul and then you will not be able to endure with forbearance when the time comes to pray for them who mistreat you as the Lord commanded.
Your prayers will dispatch angels from here who can enter the souls of men with fertile soil to guide them to the wakefulness and the purity Christ seeks. Do this and you will return to live among us.”
Peter then hugged me with the same warmth of Jesus and excused himself. I looked over at Juan Diego who was already piercing me with his cerulean eyes, and asked how I was doing.
“I may survive.” I said sheepishly. “What’s next? Can we go to the beach for a picnic?" I added desperate to lighten-up.