Sunday, August 25, 2013

Looking Forward to Heaven

When I think of Heaven as a particular place, my mind's eye often sees a vast cosmopolitan city: interior concourses so huge that the Statue of Liberty would make a nice focal point; and skyscrapers designed in a blend of art deco and high Gothic styles.

My imagination takes me in those directions because I'm familiar with both styles. Both represent what architects can achieve when they decide that stone or steel can be beautiful, as well as practical.

(Carol M Highsmith, Luis Argerich, via Wikimedia Commons, used w/o permission.)
The Chrysler and Kavanagh buildings.

(© Professor Jeffery Howe, Boston College, used w/o permission.)
Saint Étienne, Bourges.

Heaven probably doesn't look like that. Then again, some parts might.

Permanent Address: Heaven, I hope

Heaven is an eternal life with God. I don't 'deserve' to be there, but what my Lord did on Golgotha opened Heaven for me, and everyone else. Opting for Heaven is an option. I could decide that loving God is less important than 'me time,' which seems like a daft decision. (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 598-618, 766, 1023-1029, 1033-1037)

Considering what my Lord did for me, I think I can put up with a little inconvenience and frustration now and then: and that's not quite another topic.

Revelation and Responsibility

Reading Revelation as a none-too-reflective 21st-century man, I could assume that once I get to Heaven someone's going to write on my forehead, and I'll get to boss folks around. Imagery about writing on foreheads and reigning forever looks like a sort of combination wild party and power trip.

Like I've said before, Revelation wasn't written by an American.

On the other hand, I think this is true:
"They will look upon his face, 3 and his name will be on their foreheads."

"Night will be no more, nor will they need light from lamp or sun, for the Lord God shall give them light, and they shall reign forever and ever."
(Revelation 22:4-5)

"This perfect life with the Most Holy Trinity - this communion of life and love with the Trinity, with the Virgin Mary, the angels and all the blessed - is called 'heaven.' Heaven is the ultimate end and fulfillment of the deepest human longings, the state of supreme, definitive happiness."
(Catechism, 1024)

"In the glory of heaven the blessed continue joyfully to fulfill God's will in relation to other men and to all creation. Already they reign with Christ; with him 'they shall reign for ever and ever.'605"
(Catechism, 1029)
Reigning with Christ is a good thing: but let's remember that Jesus died for each of us. I think it's reasonable to expect that fulfilling "God's will in relation to other men and to all creation" involves work: and responsibility.

It's probably like the "good and faithful servant," whose reward for being responsible was - bigger responsibilities.
"His master said to him, 'Well done, my good and faithful servant. Since you were faithful in small matters, I will give you great responsibilities. Come, share your master's joy.' "
(Matthew 25:23)
Think of it as job security?

Finding God's Kingdom

Today's readings talk about "nations of every language," "the discipline of the Lord," and this creation's endgame: Isaiah 66:18-21; Hebrews 12:5-7, 11-13; and Luke 13:22-30.

Don't expect to see an 'End Time Bible prophecy' here, by the way. I take Matthew 24:35 seriously, and do not think trying to second-guess God makes sense. (November 14, 2010)

I'm looking forward to Heaven. This isn't 'pie in the sky by and by' stuff, where the payoff for being good now is self-gratification later. If I don't like working for God now, why would I expect to enjoy a Heaven where I'll still be working for God?
"...This earthly life would make no sense if it were merely the staging ground for the life to come. God puts us on this earth to learn how to live here so we will be prepared to live here after. If we find nothing of God's kingdom here on earth we are not likely to find a home in heaven...."
(Reflection by Deacon L. N. Kaas (August 25, 2013))
There is a sort of 'payoff,' for me anyway. I like knowledge, and look forward to getting a clear look at - everything.
"At present we see indistinctly, as in a mirror, but then face to face. At present I know partially; then I shall know fully, as I am fully known."
(1 Corinthians 13:12)

"Beloved, we are God's children now; what we shall be has not yet been revealed. We do know that when it is revealed 2 we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is."
(1 John 3:2)
Knowledge isn't useful - unless it's put to use. Thinking beautiful thoughts is okay, but following my Lord also means feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, and generally making myself useful.

Not that I've done everything listed in Matthew 25:34-40. I hope Jesus won't mind that I focus on what I'm fairly good at doing. Writing seems pretty close to "...the expression of wisdom..." and "...the expression of knowledge..." I read about in 1 Corinthians 12:8: and that's sort of another topic.

I don't think we'll build 'a heaven on Earth.' Not on our own, at least.

But making our world a better place is part of our job. (Catechism 1928-1942)

My guess is that we've got a lot of time to work with: and will need every millennia of it.

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