It was the end of a long life spent in service to the Lord and Cardinal Frank Spencer had been a long time dying. His last weeks were spent in bed as his body failed and his mind went back over his life and everything that had happened and what he had done.
From a teenage tearaway who was rescued by his parish priest, he remembered growing to love the church and the good works he was able to do. After years spent in various parishes and being moved around every few years, he found he was called to fill higher positions of power in the church where he was able to help out fellow priests in their work and eventually found himself in the Vatican as a Cardinal helping the Holy Father.
But to each person there is a time to die and Frank’s time had come. He welcomed his journey to his reward for his life spent in helping people from his position in the church.
It wasn’t a flash of light but just a blink of his eyes and he was in a unearthly garden with a lot of others. There were a multitude of people in the garden with Frank and they were from every walk of life. He could see that some were being led away while more arrived to take their place and Frank wondered when it would be his time.
He was wandering around and looking at the garden when a woman walked up to him. She was perfect and her voice was like an Angel. It suddenly hit Frank that she WAS an Angel when she told him to follow her as it was his time to meet his reward.
They walked to an tunnel in the wall of the garden that he hadn’t noticed before and through it he could see a magnificent city. The city was unlike anything he had sen in his life. It was open and filled with beautiful plants and trees and there were parks between the buildings where people were walking, talking and laughing with each other that he could hear from where they were.
“This is the city of the people who have lived a life of love and service and who believed in God. They didn’t all call Him by the same name but they all believed and lived their life as He commanded them in their Holy books. There are Buddhists, Sikhs, Christians, Jews, Muslims, Hindus and more all living together in harmony. This is their reward.”
“Magnificent. Where will I live? What do I do once I am living there?” Frank was amazed at the sight and full of joy about seeing such a wonder.
“This is where you would have been living if your life had been slightly different Frank. But this is not your reward. Your reward is on the other side of the city and it is a much more impressive reward compared to this city. It is the just reward for special people like you.”
A flash of light blinded Frank for a moment and when he could see again, he found he was looking down at the city from the lip of a massive wall. Looking behind him, Frank could see a desert made up of nothing but waves and waves of hot sand under a burning sun.
On the wall were another multitude of people who were looking at the city with desire. Frank could see constant streams of people arriving from the desert to stand looking at the city and there were mirroring streams of people leaving the wall and heading out into the desert again.
“What is this?” Frank asked.
“This is the reward for the people just like you who believed in God and lived a life where they abused and used people. You lived a life where the love of the church was paramount and the image of the church was more important than the people it was built to serve.”
Frank was shocked to hear this. “No, no. You are wrong. I served the people in my parishes. I loved them like they were my own family. I never abused anyone.”
“No Frank. You seem to be forgetting those children you tutored after school. The boys and girls who looked up to you as their local priest but found that he had wandering hands and then forced them to submit to his sexual needs and then you threatened them with hellfire and damnation to shut them up.”
.... There is more of this story ...