A recent bestselling Christian book teaches that your reward in heaven depends on how you respond to your faith on earth. What you do with God’s gifts of grace will determine what you would receive in eternity. At the end of your life, God will do an audit of your life like a final exam, in which you would be evaluated and rewarded according to how well you handled God’s gifts. You may receive a promotion and be given greater responsibility in eternity.
If we look at today’s Gospel, the insight from the bestselling book might be right in that you will receive spiritual blessings in this life and after you die, you will go to heaven. As Jesus said, you will sit on twelve thrones, “and everyone who has given up houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands for the sake of my name will receive a hundred times more, and will inherit eternal life.” But this type of salvation has been subjected to many harsh critiques in modern times as pure individualism, a private form of eternal salvation.
Cardinal Henri de Lubac, however, presents Judaism as a model to help eliminate the notion of individual salvation. After all, Christian salvation has always been considered a “social” reality. Individually, we may find joy and the joy of Jesus can be personal. Nevertheless, Christian salvation is always communal salvation. As de Lubac wrote, “just as the Jews for so long have placed all their hope not in individual rewards after death, but in the collective destiny of their race and the glory of their earthly Jerusalem, likewise, all the hopes of the Christian should tend toward the coming of the kingdom and the glory of the one Jerusalem …. Spiritualized and universalized, according to the words of the prophecies themselves, Judaism transmits to Christianity its conception of an essential social salvation.”