Sunday, April 4, 2010

Lenten Reflection on Heaven

by Fr. A. R. Arboleda, SSP

If today there are Christians who do not take their faith that seriously, one reason could be that not much thought is given to heaven. There is even a box office hit movie which is entitled, “Heaven Can Wait.” For many, heaven is some distant reality worth thinking about only when one is either old or sick, when death stares one in the face.

People wouldn’t want to think of heaven while they are young and strong because they feel that there are more pressing and urgent things to be concerned about. Already, life on earth has so much to offer, so, why think of heaven? Yes, to many, heaven may as well wait.

When we want to think of heaven, however, we should not picture it as something ever so distant; nor should we imagine it as some faraway place where all kinds of activity cease, where all excitements are muted, where one does nothing but sit around and stare at angels and saints.

When we look into ourselves, we discover one thing in particular: our brokenness. Something in us tells us that we are not meant to live and die in that brokenness. Something tells us that somewhere in our growing up we would reach the experience of wholeness, of unity and, above all, of communion with life itself and with the rest of all living things. Something in us tells us that our miseries are not meant to last forever; that all enmities will cease, and that peace will settle and become permanent.

It is strange that Jesus did not speak of heaven in terms of delights and pleasures. Instead, he spoke of heaven in terms of relationship and communion with the Father, whole love is forever and is all-merciful and forgiving. “God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life” (Jn 3:16).

Heaven, then, is to live in loving relationship with the Father, something which has been made possible when God revealed himself in Jesus Christ, his Son, and made us brothers to him and sons to himself. Heaven is living the life of God, which we experience vaguely now but which will be revealed in all its grandeur.

Very dimly we do experience heaven now, especially during those moments when we are in communion and in peace not just with the persons we love, but also with ourselves and the rest of creation.

Heaven is something I can choose to live now, because now I have the power to accept the relationship God offers through Jesus, which is being preferred by the Spirit present in the goodness every person possesses in his heart.

“Whoever loves me will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our dwelling with him” (Jn 14:23).

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