There are really not many guarantees in the world today, but there is one guarantee for each and every one of us. It is a guarantee many of us don’t want to think about, a guarantee many of us do not want to talk about, a guarantee that many of us don’t want to plan for, but it is a guarantee. At some point, you and I will die. While that might not be uplifting way to start a homily, I I know many of us don’t want to think about it, it is a simple fact that the average life expectancy in our country. is 76 years old. Whether it is 50, 70, or 90 years, at some point our time on this earth comes to an end.
So, whether we want to or not, everyone grapples with the question, “what comes next?”. What happens when my life on this earth is over? While people have grappled with this question for generations and perhaps many of us here have stopped to ask it as well, it is really not that complicated of a question. You see as Christians; I think all of us agree with a very basic principle; namely that Jesus tells the truth. So, when we stop to think about what is next, the answer is right before us in today’s Gospel. “I have prepared a place for you” Jesus says. And if Jesus says it, we can be certain of it.
The good news for us is that this place is not some place up in the sky. Jesus didn’t prepare this place and tell us that somehow, we had to figure out how to get there. No, Jesus tells us “I will come back again and take you to myself.” My friends, the question isn’t “what comes next.” Jesus answers that question for us. Perhaps the next question of us then is “where is that place and how do I get there.” Well Jesus answers that question for us when He extends the invitation “follow me, the way, the truth and, the life.”
But how do we follow Him? He is no longer walking the earth. Ah, well Jesus knew that after His resurrection He would ascend to the right hand of the Father and so He established a Church. Elsewhere in the scriptures Jesus exclaims to St. Peter, “you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it.” Simply put, Jesus came into this world to save us. He has prepared a place for us and He has given us a Church so that we can follow Him. It is His Church, which continues to carry out that saving work down through the ages.
If we want to get to that place that has been prepared for us, we simply have to live out our Catholic faith. Now it sounds, easier said than done, but when we stop and think about the big question, the solution is simple, focus on right now, on actively being a member of the Church. It’s not my Church though, it’s not your Church, we don’t get to pick and choose what we like or what we think the teachings should be. No, Jesus has given us a Church with clear teaching as the path back to eternal life. If we want to get to the place that God has prepared for us, then all we have to do is follow that teaching. You see, it’s not really that complicated after all.
I remember in my studies, I had a chance to study under a world-famous philosopher who would frequently quote today’s Gospel to me saying “Peter, remember in my father’s house there are many dwelling places.” It was way of telling me not to be so narrow minded. He was reminding me that the Church is my thought, the Truth isn’t what I think it should be. No, the Truth is the Truth, it is Jesus Christ and there is a wide range in the house. He used to often say, don’t limit yourself to just one room in the mansion. Make sure you stay in the house, make sure you stay in the Church, but don’t be so isolated that you force other people into what you think the Church should be. Jesus has already told us what the Church is. He has given us the teachings; He has given us His word in the scriptures. It’s why St. Paul tells us in our second reading that we are living stones and that He is the cornerstone from which we can anchor our entire life.
My friends, Jesus tells us in the gospel today that He has prepared a place for us. There is no more question. He says it and it is true. He says that He will come back and take us to Him. Good, how then do I follow Him? Well, He has left us a Church as the way to follow Him. It is really that simple. If I want to arrive at eternal life, all I have to do be is a faithful practicing Catholic. Each and every day, I have to admit that Jesus left me a path in the Church to take me to the place He has prepared for me. Then I need to ask, am I currently a member of the Church? Am I making use of Her sacraments? Am I following her teachings? My friends that should be enough for us.
When faced with the reality that all of us, at some point, will come to an end here on earth, the mind naturally asks the question, what comes next. Jesus answers that question plainly in today’s gospel when He says, “I have prepared a place for you.” When we come to believe that there is a place prepared for us then the mind naturally asks the question, how do I get there. Jesus gives us the answer to that. He tells us that He will come and take us to Himself, all we have to do is stay in the Church.
So, my friends, when we think about that one guarantee, that at some point our time on this earth will end, we don’t need to ask the question, what comes next. We know that answer to that. We don’t need to ask the question; how do I get there. Jesus gave us the answer to that. Perhaps the only question left for us to ask is to look at our own lives and ask ourselves the deeply personal question, am I living in the Church? Am I an active, practicing member of the faith, making use of her sacraments and following all of her teachings? For if I am then there is nothing to worry about. God has prepared a place for me and He will come back and take me to Him. All I have to do to attain eternal life is to open my heart, be a member of the Church and allow Jesus to come back and take me to Himself.
 1. Vital Statistics Rapid Release – CDC, accessed May 8, 2023, https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/vsrr/vsrr012-508.pdf.
 Matthew 16:18