I have to say that I have never been to heaven and returned to describe it. But God has given us an understanding of what it will be like. Of course, heaven will be infinitely better than anything we can describe. The key element is that love is the central concept that best describes our relationship with God. Therefore the most perfect description of heaven is perfect and eternal union with him. We can best understand God’s love by our loving relationships with each other—imperfect as they yet will be.
We know that heaven is not a place or location. It is, in essence, union with God. This union perfects us as humans, but in spirit. There remain no imperfections and nothing that could detract from that perfect union with God.
If we are all in perfect union with God, then we are all in perfect union with each other. We cannot comprehend that in terms of experience, but it definitely makes sense based on what we know of God and what Jesus has revealed to us. Heaven is perfection—no matter how we look at it.
Love One Another
I’ve talked with more than a few Christian fundamentalists. Their concept of heaven could best be described as “union with God—no one else.” Their rationale is that once we have completed our earthly journey, we don’t need anyone else to make us happy. Others would just get in the way and detract from our giving glory to God. Whenever I hear that explanation, I think they have created a rather insecure God who wants all our attention for eternity. It is such a shrunken image of the magnificence of heaven that God has prepared.
John spoke God’s word in a perfect statement that answers the question: “Beloved, let us love one another, because love is of God” (1 Jn 4:7).
Amazing, isn’t it? God is telling us to love one another. We might automatically assume that our most important love should be directed to God. But no! God says that our love must be directed to one another!
Think of it this way: What mother or father would not be ecstatic to see how much their sons and daughters love one another? What could make them happier? Would loving parents tell their children that they must concentrate on them and not one another? Truly loving parents would say, “Loving one another is the greatest gift you could give us.”
And so it would appear that heaven will be union with God and with each other in perfect love. It means that eternity will be the revelation not only of all God’s love and goodness, but also of all that we have meant to each other. It pleases God when we love one another.
Dear Friar Jeremy: I read with interest your E-spiration on Christmas. Indeed, God is with us, God is for us, God is in us! Christmas never comes and goes. It is always Christmas! Father Alex
Dear Friar Jeremy: What a lovely E-spiration! And you’re so right: we need to keep Christmas alive in our hearts all year long. Thank you! Jane
Dear Friar Jeremy: Thank you so much for your most recent E-spiration. If we kept Christmas going throughout the year, there would be less strife in the world. Your words ring so true. Sarah
A: Dear Father Alex, Jane, and Sarah: Thanks for reading and responding! You can’t say enough about Christmas. As St. Augustine says, “What greater grace could God give us than to make his only Son become the son of man, so that we might in turn become a son or daughter of God.”
We have to keep that Christmas spirit alive in the human family! Much joy in the New Year! Friar Jeremy