If you had to die now, where would you go? If Joe is a good guy, will he get to heaven? I bet you have often hear people say “Oh, Joe whatever, he’s not a Christian, he’s not Catholic, but he’s still a good person.” Joe might be or look like a good person, however, does being a good person by society’s norms get you to go to heaven? The answer is, not at all. To go to heaven you have to be a righteous person, or at the very least strive to be one, if you’re not there yet. And what is the difference between a good man and a righteous man? A good person will be good in the eyes of people, a righteous man will be good in the eyes of God. The righteous man will follow God’s laws.
The definition of good in our society is set by society itself. Joe might not kill anyone with a gun or a baseball bat, but he’s encouraged a friend to have an abortion. He is therefore not a righteous guy. Oh, but that’s okay, he’s still a good guy some of you may say! Joe might be funny, talkative, hard-working, a good father, and what ever other qualities you give him to be, but if Joe is just a good guy, it doesn’t do. You don’t get to heaven by following society.
Saint Joseph, and Abraham are both described as righteous people in the Bible. They followed God, even if they did not understand. Abraham was ready to give everything to God. God did not take, He was simply pleased that Abraham was ready to go this far to show his love. Saint Joseph was a righteous man. Why? He followed God’s words. He was told to take care of the Virgin Mary, and he did just that. He did not know anything else, but he obeyed. Yet he followed God, simply trusting Him.
You cannot be a righteous person if you do not follow God! Contraception, adultery, abortion, drugs, abuse of alcohol, going to that hockey game instead of Church, listening to everything on the radio, watching everything on television, playing with the occult, performing hypnosis, living with someone who is not your spouse, those are not righteous things. In fact, if you did not know this, most of the things I listed are in fact mortal sins. If you weren’t aware that those things were a sin, you’re lucky, but you have to stop right away. If you keep doing them now that you know they are sinful actions, you will head for hell. Society will tell you that most of those things do not matter, you can do them and still be a good person. God, give to Cesar what belongs to Cesar, and to God what belongs to God. Morals and right & wrong belongs to God alone. It is not society that will be able to decide what is right and what is wrong.
So, how can you be a righteous person? Righteousness is only achieved by trying to follow everything that Jesus intended. If you do not believe in the Real Presence of Jesus in the Holy Eucharist, or you do not respect Mary His Immaculate Mother, or you practice contraception, or you play with the occult, etcetera, then something is missing. You may be a good person, but you do not follow what God is teaching. It’s normal that some things are too big for our finite minds to grasp. You can be righteous if you do not understand what this or that means, but if you still follow those things out of Faith. No one will be able to fully grasp the mystery of our God in three distinct persons, the two natures of Jesus, and the mystery of transubstantiation. It’s not a sin to say that those things are greater than us, because they are! So, be righteous, follow Jesus, do your best to get back up when you fall. And go to Confession regularly. Don’t just live as a good person, live as a righteous person!
Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Philippians 4:8