We are coming to the end of the Church year. The Gospels have reminded us to be alert and vigilant for the second coming. The sun may be darkened, the moon will not give its light. “And then they will see the ‘Son of Man coming in the clouds’ with great power and glory…” (Mk 13:26). Christ will come to bring salvation to “those who eagerly await him” (Hb 9:28).
We cannot forget, of course, that God is with us at every moment of our lives. He is speaking to us in the Scriptures, listening and talking to us in prayer, coming to us in holy Communion. And we can look forward to meeting the same risen Christ at our death or his second coming, whichever comes first.
I find inspiration in looking forward to heaven. There we will be welcomed into the communion of life and love of Father, Son, and Spirit, giving love and receiving love from each other in dynamic unity. We will realize, as we never have before, God’s passionate love for us. God created us out of love and delights in sharing that love with each of us. Whether we respond or not, God never stops loving us.
Living with God
In heaven, we will enjoy the beatific vision of God. St. Cyprian explains: “How great will your glory and happiness be, to be allowed to see God, to be honored with sharing the joy of salvation and eternal light with Christ your Lord and God….” It is more than we can get our minds and hearts around. “What eye has not seen, and ear has not heard, and what has not entered the human heart, what God has prepared for those who love him” (1 Cor 2:9).
“Those who die in God’s grace and friendship and are perfectly purified live for ever with Christ” (Catechism of the Catholic Church 1023). At the Last Supper, Jesus told his apostles that he was going to prepare a place for them and would return to take them to his Father’s house “so that where I am you also may be” (Jn 14:3).
Being with God in love is enough! But we can also look forward to meeting family and friends in heaven.
I love the testimony of St. Cyprian, who talks about our homecoming to heaven. “A great crowd of our loved ones awaits us there,” he says, “a countless throng of parents, brothers, [sisters] and children longs for us to join them. Assured though they are of their own salvation, they are still concerned about ours. What joy both for them and for us to see one another and embrace! O the delight of that heavenly kingdom where there is no fear of death!”
Living with God in love, with Mary and Joseph, the prophets and martyrs, and the joyous community of all the saints: that’s something to look forward to! Heaven awaits those who love God!
Dear Friar Jim: Thank you so much for your E-spiration about the size of the universe and the significance of one human life. What a beautiful message! I have already shared this with friends. Joanne
A: Dear Joanne: It’s true: a single life is of more value than the entire universe. Only humans are made in the image of God. Friar Jim
Dear Friar Jim: Your E-spiration made me think about life. Sometimes even the most mundane moments have such significance. Your words help me to stop and appreciate my life and the lives of those around me. Ted
A: Dear Ted: The recent Paris attacks are testaments to the wounded and fallen human nature we see all around. And what is so wonderful is that Jesus died even for terrorists. What a mystery! Friar Jim