Heavenly Skid Row

A priest told a funny story during his homily at Daily Mass this morning:

A rich person died and went to Heaven. St. Peter was going to take him to the Heavenly mansion that had been prepared for him and while going there he was seeing all of the other mansions. The first one he saw was a large, expansive palace that would have dwarfed the Taj Mahal on Earth.

“This is surely mine!” exclaimed the rich guy.

“No,” replied St. Peter, “this is not it.”

And so they continued down the boulevard adorned with grand palaces and the like. As they were traveling down the street, the palaces were gradually getting smaller. Still, outshining anything back on Earth. The rich man was still excited, nevertheless, and kept pointing hopefully to each wondrous place. “This one? Is this mine?”

After a while and after St. Peter kept telling him “No, not this one, yet. Yours is coming up,” they entered what seemed to be a different neighborhood. The mansions, if they can be called that, were more like ordinary homes in Europe and North America. Nice, but not palatial.

The rich guy was subdued a little and was silent. He kept glancing back towards the rich neighborhood, now further and further behind.

And then they entered a seemingly “poor” area. The dwellings here were like huts and ramshackle houses. The rich man was concerned, but didn’t speak.

The dwellings kept getting more rundown.

Suddenly St. Peter stopped at the last place on the street. He pointed to it. “Your Heavenly mansion!”

The rich man was dismayed. “This place?!?!”

The “mansion” was a rickety shanty. The unpainted, weatherworn boards were just slapped together, nails missing and so some of the “walls” just barely hung on. The door just hung off to one side and seemed to be on the verge of falling off: it lacked a hinge and the remaining one was all rusty and had only one nail to hold the door to it. The roof was missing shingles.

The rich man repeated his cry. “This place?!?!”

“Yes,” replied St. Peter, “this is your Heavenly mansion where you will dwell for all Eternity.”

The rich man exclaimed, “This is a Heavenly mansion? You’ve got to be joking!”

“No, no joke,” St. Peter assured him. “This is it.”

The rich man retorted, “But I was worth billions on Earth!”

“Yes, we know. But this is the best we can do with the material you sent up to us.”

John 14:2-3: “In my Father’s house, there are many dwelling places. If there were not, I would have told you. For I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will return again, and then I will take you to myself, so that where I am, you also may be.”

Matthew 6:19-20: “Do not choose to store up for yourselves treasures on earth: where rust and moth consume, and where thieves break in and steal. Instead, store up for yourselves treasures in heaven…”

Matthew 16:26: “For how does it benefit a man, if he gains the whole world, yet truly suffers damage to his soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?”

(Via Sacred Bible: Catholic Public Domain Version.)

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