In medicine, they have a term known as NDE otherwise known as Near Death Experience. These are experiences of sick patients who have been flatlining for a while but eventually regain consciousness. Three things are typically experienced:
- They do not remember anything
- They were in a very nice peaceful place but were told to go back to earth
- There was also a dark, scary place with a pungent smell
These experiences remind us that there is life after this life. Further, the Gospel tells us there is heaven and hell.
Hence, with this reality, three reflections:
- If God is good, why is there hell? Indeed God loves us. Indeed God wants us to be with Him. Like in any relationship though, it does take two. The Lord respects our decision. If we do not want to be with Him, He will not force Himself. Hence, a place exists for those who wish not to be with God.
- What happens if a person doesn’t receive the Anointing of the Sick? What happens if a person wasn’t able to confess? This is a reminder of one of the messages of Christ, “Always be prepared. We do not know the hour or the day.” Yet, when a person passes away without sacraments, we rely on the goodness and mercy of the Lord. He, after all, writes our life.
- Why pray when a person is dead? The story of the paralytic who was brought down from the roof by his friends reminds us that the healing occurred not only because of the faith of the paralytic but also because of the faith of his friends. Hence when we pray for the dead who are in purgatory, our prayers are heard by the Lord. Praying for the dead is also remembering with hope those who will always be part of our lives.
St. Philip Neri would say, “I prefer heaven!”. Let this be our aspiration as well.
Heaven starts now: by our actions, our words and our life.