REFLECTION: Heaven and earth PDF Print E-mail
Monday, 09 February 2015 11:47

BY FR. ROY CIMAGALA

 

We need to see the unity between heaven and earth, and try our best, with God’s grace, to conform to such reality. Obviously, this unity between heaven and earth will always be a tentative one while we are still here on earth, but we need to work on it.

That’s the reason why in the Lord’s prayer, we are asked to constantly pray, “Thy will be done on earth as it is heaven.” Many other passages in the gospel can attest to this. St. Paul in his First Letter to the Corinthians said: “As we have borne the image of the earthly, let us bear also the image of the heavenly.” (15,49)

In his Letter to the Philippians, the same sentiment is made—that our conversation be in heaven even if we are still here on earth. (3,20) Let’s hope that we take this truth of our faith seriously, avoiding anything that can trivialize it.

For us who are the image and likeness of God, adopted children of his, meant to participate in the very life of God, we have to understand that our earthly life is a journey toward heaven, from where we come and to where we belong. That’s because God is our Creator and our beginning, as well as our Ultimate End, and he is in heaven.

Our earthly life is the time and space of our trial—to see if we also like to be God’s children. God wants us to be his children, but he does not impose it on us. We have to freely choose it, by corresponding to his love with our love which is a matter of keeping his commandments, doing his will.

For this purpose, God has given us everything. In fact, God has given us his very own son who became man, Jesus Christ, to be “the way, the truth and the life” for us. We have no reason then to think that this truth of faith cannot be attained by us.

God has become man, has assumed everything human except sin, so that what is his becomes ours, and what is ours also becomes his. St. Paul went to the extent of saying that Christ made himself like sin just to save us. “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” (2 Cor 5,21)

God is never scandalized by our sins. In fact, our sins attract him in a special way. On the cross, offering his life, he went to the extent of bearing all our sins. “God so loved the world as to give his only begotten Son…” Nothing of our sinfulness, including all the ugly consequences of our sin, is invincible to God’s love, mercy and compassion.

We need to meditate on this truth slowly and deeply, so that can we learn to adapt the very same spirit of God in his love and mercy for all of us, and avoid the subtle and devious ways of self-righteousness. We need to imitate Christ, the master of adaptation, who can take on anything that can take place in our earthly life.

The other day, in a visit to Bohol, I dropped by a church to do my afternoon prayer. Of course, after the 2013 killer earthquake, the big, beautiful church is gone, and in its place is a small, poor makeshift chapel, full of improvised ornaments.

A funeral Mass was going on when I entered. The place was full of people, simple townspeople whose greatest wealth can only be their undeniably strong faith and piety.

I could not help but notice the indigence of the place. But I was warmed to see the fervor of the people while attending the Mass. Yes, I missed the splendor of a solemn Mass with all its rich vestments and vessels. But in that particular setting, I was happier to notice how the people prayed and paid attention to the priest-celebrant.

Then I remembered the Mass of Pope Francis in Tacloban. He was in a raincoat because it was raining heavily. Due to the weather, the altar used was a simple table, instead of the prepared ornate one. The people were all in raincoats, but attentive and solemn in their prayers.

No doubt, heaven can adjust itself to the conditions of our earth, no matter how poor it may be in its physical and material dimension. It’s in the spirit of Christ’s love and mercy, that presumes faith and requires hope, that heaven and earth can be united, and the fullness of time achieved.