The Apostolate of the Laity

Waxing philosophical in communion with one, holy, catholic, and apostolic church.

My Photo
Location: Portland, Oregon, United States

I am just a sinner who holds fast to the notion that every human being on the planet is the result of a thought of God.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

This is Not a Drill

"When I die, I want to go to Heaven."

Every person at one time or another has expressed that desire. Often times when one states this there is a slight longing in the voice like a wearied foreign traveler anticipating the trip home. Life is a journey, right? At least it is described as such. And more than that. Real hope hangs in the balance. Hope that all of this has some sort of meaning; that the suffering one day makes sense. Hope that the answers to all the questions lie just on the other side of the veil. Hope that a long lost loved one waits with open arms for one's return. Hope that a parent who died before they fully understood the complexities of one's life now finally gets it. Hope that when all of the good and the bad of one's life is measured a merciful judgment gets rendered.

"You, therefore, must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect."

Christ gave this direction during His Sermon on the Mount. God created perfection and expects no less from each person. Jesus did not say "Try your best to be perfect." His message was not, "Your heavenly Father will give you an 'A' for effort." He did not profess, "One day if you play your cards right you will be perfect in Heaven." He said "You must be perfect."

How could the Savior deliver such an impossible command? Human beings are decidedly imperfect. Mankind needs salvation precisely because of its reproachable nature. Yet Christ was not speaking in metaphor. This sermon was not a parable. The Word made flesh commanded that, "You must be perfect," and He meant it.

Wow! So much for hope of salvation, and yet that is exactly what Christ wants for all. Something else must be going on here.

If what Jesus said is true, then life is not a journey but rather a process of revelation and choosing. A slight shift in thinking, a looking at the world through eternal eyes, shines light on the beautiful truth that Heaven is not a place to go to some day in our future but rather an existence, a beatific vision of God to be realized and accepted in the here and now. Man's earthly experience involves a continuous decision making process of choosing which world gets his focus. In his fallen nature more often than not he chooses self.

Evidence of Heaven in the here and now is found in the Catholic mass. In that perfect moment when all barriers between the two realities dissolve and the priest consecrates the host to make present the body, blood, soul, and divinity of Christ, Heaven is upon the Earth. And even here a choice must be made; a perfect choice. The faithful are called to look upon the Eucharist and say, "My Lord and my God." That is an act of being perfect.

The saints seemed to have a near untrammeled view of Heaven while they lived upon the earth. Their life choices were not based on future reward but rather on bringing the heavenly reality into the present through the example of their own behavior. Some were so totally focused on the true reality that they even seemed to be free of the bounds of the physical world. St Padre Pio, St. Anthony, and several others were able to bi locate. How many of the saints' bodies remain uncorrupted? Even death could not destroy their beauty.

Perhaps instead of wishing we go to Heaven after death we should be saying,

"I hope I realize Heaven, today."


Post a Comment

<< Home