Sunday after Ascension 28.5.17 Heaven
We have just celebrated the Feast of the Ascension. At the Ascension Our Lord leaves us, and we might grieve about that. But on a little reflection we see that He has to go to His proper place, which is Heaven.
Heaven is also our proper place (in God’s plan), and Our Lord is paving the way there for us. He goes to prepare us a place (Jn 14,3).
Heaven can wait Curiously for such a good place we do not necessarily want to hurry there. It is best to leave the timing to God. We are with Him here or there, and that is the main thing. He will call us when the time is right.
The credibility of Heaven. It is hard for us to visualise Heaven. We have not seen it; and we find we do not have the vocabulary or the concepts to understand it.
It is no less real for that. The reality of something does not depend on our ability to understand or explain it (eg the intricacies of weather, or flight, or outer space).
Some will refuse to believe for just this reason - that they cannot understand it, or have not experienced it. But that is to try to fit the ocean into a bucket. Finite beings must give way to Infinity.
(It is not hard, at least, to imagine a place better than earth!)
The beauty of Heaven. Heaven is often caricatured as people sitting on clouds and playing harps. Or in films, it is portrayed as a slow-motion sort of place, with a ghostly atmosphere – a place with less life and vitality than here on earth. In fact Heaven is far more alive than earth. Sin and death have no place there. There is nothing to impede the flow of life.
Even this earth, with all its sin, still staggers us with its beauty. Yet we are just one planet in a universe with billions of stars. Do we doubt that God, who made all this, can come up with something better than we have seen so far?
The happiness of Heaven is also oversimplified when understood as merely the continuation of the same pleasures we had on earth. The happiness of Heaven far exceeds that of earth.
The greatest happiness of Heaven is union with God. The Creator must be greater than the things He has created. If we enjoy those things we will enjoy Him even more.
In Heaven we shall see Him face to face. We will perceive Him directly, though still not penetrating all the mysteries.
It will be like being thirsty all the time, but able to relieve that thirst at the same time.
Appetite and satisfaction will always be at their fullest.
What do we do in the meantime For now we must pursue our everyday lives, just doing our duty, as well as we can, with as little complaint as we can manage. We find God amidst this life, through prayer and sacraments, and we see His handiwork among us.
St Paul tells us we are already in Heaven with Christ, and our thoughts should be on Heavenly things (Col 3,1-4). We have to reprogramme our minds to be less attached to things of this earth.
We live by Heavenly thoughts, applying what we learn from them to this earthly life.
We have the Heavenly currency, called ‘grace’, to enable us to live earthly life in a Heavenly way – for example, being charitable, patient, forgiving - instead of the opposites.
May the Lord bring us all safely to that place, which is our true home (Ph,3,20).