Collect of the Day:
Father, may we whom you renew in baptism bear witness to our faith by the way we live. By the suffering, death, and Resurrection of your Son may we come to eternal Joy.
We make our prayer through Jesus Christ your Son Our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, ever One God world without end. Amen.
The First Reading: Acts of the Apostles: 13:44-52: We are now turning to the Gentiles.
The Gospel: John: 14:7-14: He who sees me, also sees the Father.
Today we are going to reflect on the third of the ‘Four Last Things’ Heaven: What is Heaven? The version of Heaven made popular through movies and cartoons with its baroque images of Angel Choirs, clouds of glory, harps and fat little Cherubs, can in fact distract and hinder us from developing an understanding of what Heaven is really about.
In Catholic Theology, Heaven is regarded as a real place, but it claims no knowledge of its spacial characteristics or its relation to the physical universe. Stressing rather the essential quality of the life in Heaven which consists of the enjoyment of the ‘Beatific Vision’ (visio Dei) which allows a face to face knowledge of the Triune God, revealing to us God as He is in Himself. This attainment of the ‘Beatific Vision’ finally allows us to fully realise the purpose for which we were Created, ‘To Praise, Reverence and Serve God Our Lord’
To further our limited understanding of what Heaven is like we can turn to the imagery used in Sacred Scripture. The Scriptural descriptions of Heaven can be divided into two groupings, the first uses earthly delights like those found in a earthly paradise for eg: a wedding feast, the Fathers house, the Heavenly Jerusalem:
“I say to you that many will come from the east and the west, and will take their places at the feast with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven.” (Matt 8:11)
“In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you.” (John 14:2)
“But you have come to Mount Zion, to the heavenly Jerusalem, the city of the living God. You have come to thousands upon thousands of angels in joyful assembly.” (Heb12:22)
The second line of thought speaks of life, peace, light and a overwhelming sense of love:
“He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” (Rev 21:4)
“For the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd;
he will lead them to springs of living water.
And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.” (Rev 7:17)
“And there will no longer be any night; and they will not have need of the light of a lamp nor the light of the sun, because the Lord God will illumine them; and they will reign forever and ever.” (Rev 22:5)
The most important thing we can learn from these images is that Heaven is God centered. Although we can learn another very important lesson from Scripture if you look deeply, that Jesus longs for us all to join Him there:
“I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one” (John 17:24)
And that the hope of Heaven is our greatest cause for rejoicing:
“However, do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.” (Luke 10:20).
This in itself should be a great motivation for us to try as much as is in our own capabilities, to everyday begin to strive to live for the end for which we were Created as mentioned above: ‘To Praise, Reverence and Serve God Our Lord, and by this means save our souls.’
Blessing and honour, thanksgiving and praise more than we can utter be unto Thee, O most adorable Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, by all Angels, all People, all Creatures for ever and ever Amen and Amen.
To God the Father, Who first loved us, and made us accepted in the Beloved: To God the Son, Who loved us, and washed us from our sins in His own Blood: To God the Holy Spirit, Who sheds the love of God abroad in our hearts be all love and glory for time and eternity. Amen. (Bishop Thomas Ken 1637).