There is a story about two men that went to heaven at the same time. When they arrived to heaven, they were surprised about the place that was prepared for them. The first one –we can call him Paul– had lived a favored life. He had a happy childhood, his family was united, and he had loving parents. He was also successful in life; he was intelligent, he graduated from the University, and he found a good job. He was married to a beautiful woman and they formed a beautiful family. He was Catholic, he went to Mass every Sunday and he enjoyed a well-deserved good reputation. In short, he had had a happy existence without many difficulties nor troubles.
The other one –we can call him John– had a different experience of life. His life was not successful. He was not a good student. He had to work hard to bring home bread each day to his family. He did not have a good character and also had to work hard to control it. He had many frustrations during his life. He was also Catholic, but he was just one more in his parish. In short, he had had a difficult existence with many crosses, but he always fought against the difficulties and troubles.
When, Paul got heaven, he was surprised that he did not get a place as high as he expected. He humbly asked why? If I was a good person, if I never voluntarily hurt anyone, if I accomplished all my responsibilities as Christian? Yes, you were a good Christian –said St. Peter– but, how could you not be? You barely had any setbacks or problems. Your passions were moderate by nature and you did not have strong temptations in your life. You have been a naturally virtuous man, yes, but you should have been a holy man, you should have striven to be better than you were by nature.
John also got a place that he did not expect. But, his place was higher than the place he expected. You, for sure –said St. Peter– could have been better, but you always tried to be a better person. You never gave up. You, more than Paul, took advantage of God’s graces. You strove so hard to reach heaven.
This little story can help us to understand an important teaching that Christ teaches us in the parable of the prodigal son: we must never think that we have done enough for our sanctification. This thought, or this attitude, should not be a scrupulous attitude. Scrupulosity always pulls us down. This attitude pulls us up, like the prodigal son: I will get up and go back to my father and say to him (Lk 15:18) all positive actions (no sadness, no discouragement, etc.).
I do not know how easy your life was and is now. I do not know how much you strive in your life. I do not know how strong your temptations are, etc. but, I do know that each one of us, every single day have to get up (like the prodigal son) and endeavor to do our best not to be just a good person but rather to be a holy person (to achieve sanctity). We must never settle for the level of goodness or holiness we have right now. Rather, we must always try our best to grow in it.