REFLECTION: A taste of heaven PDF Print E-mail
Sunday, 17 August 2014 15:15

BY FR. ROY CIMAGALA

 

WE have just celebrated the Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the perfect and universal mother given to all of us by no less than Christ himself. The celebration somehow reminds us that, like her, we are meant for heaven, our ultimate destination. Where she is now, we can expect ourselves to be, if we do our part.

To be sure, as based on our faith, this is God’s will for us. He will do everything to make this will of his a reality. He created us endowing us with faculties that would enable us, together with his grace, to attain this end. But obviously, he does not impose his will on us forcefully. We need to correspond to this will freely and lovingly.

It’s true that when we die, our body and soul would be separated, but that separation would only be temporary, since at the end of time, our faith tells us that there will also be the resurrection of the body which will reunite with the soul. Our definitive state will be as man with body and soul together either in heaven or in hell.

It would be good if we can include in our mentality, lifestyle and culture the frequent consideration of heaven. It would be good if we develop a taste of heaven even now. This is not an impossibility. In fact, it is a necessity.

Such awareness and attitude would help us greatly in giving our earthly life its proper shape and direction. It would give us a complete picture of our life that should go beyond the here and now, and even beyond death.

Otherwise, we would have a myopic, shallow, narrow, if not distorted and erroneous view of life, and would be, in the words of St. Paul, “tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine by the wickedness of men…” (Eph 4,14)

In other words and contrary to some claims, the frequent consideration of heaven would make us more realistic in our outlook and understanding of our life. It does not desensitize us from our more immediate needs and duties in our life now. Rather, it sharpens our sensitivities and brings them to their proper and ultimate goal and consequences.

But we have to understand what heaven really is. There are now a myriad of versions of heaven based more on one’s condition rather than on our Christian faith. Some people make money, food, power, drugs, sex, beer their heaven, for example.

Others, like the hedonists, materialists, naturalists, stoics, Communists, Buddhists, Confucianists, Shintoists, Hindus, etc., have their  own versions of heaven.

It’s good for the Christian faithful to firm up their belief and understanding of the Christian heaven. It is not so much a place as a state of life. Though it is a supernatural mystery, it is very much accessible in a tentative way even while here on earth.

Let’s remember Christ telling us, “Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the Kingdom of heaven,” the first among the beatitudes and expressed in the present tense and not in the future tense, as in a promise.

Heaven, at least in its initial state, can be had here and now. The greatness of God, his power and majesty, his infinite wisdom, love and mercy can be played out in the ordinary circumstances of our life. We can already enjoy heaven here on earth as long as we have the proper attitude and the proper state of our soul.

Obviously, heaven is impossible to describe in human terms. It will always escape human definition and description. St. Paul once said: “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, neither has it entered into the heart of man, what things God has prepared for them that love him.” (1Cor 2,9)

But based on what our faith tells us, heaven must be when we are truly and completely identified with Christ forever, when God becomes “all in all” (1 Cor 15,28).It is when our mind and heart are fully in synch with God’s will, whether here and now or at our death and after.

Christ used parables to describe the kingdom of heaven. It’s good to go through them to give us at least some ideas of how heaven is now and will be in the future, in eternity.

We need to review the parables of the sower and the seed, the good seed and the weeds, the mustard seed, the hidden treasure, the good fish and the bad fish. These parables tell us where we can find heaven even while here on earth.