THIRTY-SECOND SUNDDAY IN ORDINARY TIME 2019
What words would you use to describe heaven? No matter the words we use, we would fail in giving an accurate description of God’s paradise. The reason is that we reference everything from what we have seen or imagine as perfection. However, that is the problem, for we have never encountered perfection, nor will we until we encounter God in heaven.
Therefore, whatever we perceive here on earth is not the experiences we will have in heaven. Jesus is trying to explain that to us in the Gospel today when he responds to the Sadducee when asked which of the seven men will be the woman’s husband in heaven. Jesus, in his response, tells us that even those things we cherish the most on earth, for example, marriage, will not be retained in the same way in God’s Kingdom.
The understanding of spousal relationships, which is among the strongest that we know will be nothing to the interconnection we will have between all souls in heaven. For married couples, this is hard to imagine. For much of their lives, they have communicated the most personal feelings from depths of their hearts to each other. However, Jesus tells us that even the bond of marriage is nothing in comparison to what we will discover in heaven.
For spouses who have lives so closely together and for so long, this pronouncement by Jesus seems very frightening. After being together here on earth and then idea changing their relationship in heaven does not appear righteous. The love that two people had throughout their lives is a love that they expected to have also through eternity, together forever.
Jesus is well aware of the intensity of the spousal love that couples have, and he does not deny the quality of that relationship. As the spouses will discover, upon entering heaven, God’s love will not fail them. In the showering down of God’s love upon the couple, they will know a more intense love than happened during their earthly existence.
Keeping in mind that the Lord never does anything to harm us, then our death may not seem quite so frightening. When a loved one dies, the loss of physical connection is unbearable, all the while there remains connections that do not disappear. Memories of events, of smells, of touch, and his or her voice expresses a love that cannot be erased by death. God knows of that love and will allow us to reunite at our death. After we enter God’s Kingdom, death will never again lead to the separation of a loved one.
This reuniting of loved ones in heaven is not reserved only for spouses. Parents and children and friends, all of God’s faithful, will also experience the joys of heaven. The possibility of eternal separation of parents from their children is a heartache that many parents know. Parents may question how they failed in their efforts to religiously educate their sons and daughters when their children fall away from the Church. These parents continue to struggle with the horror of their children not being able to enter heaven because off their indifference to the faith. Therefore, a universal prayer that erupts from the hearts of a parent is, “Help my child to return to the Church so that they may experience the joy of heaven.”
That is the intensity of the love parents have for their sons and daughters. So in not difficult to understand how a parent wants to go to any lengths to preserve the eternal life of a child by urging, pleading, and demanding that he or she start going to church again. However, as a parent soon discovers, these actions usually cause more obstinance that increases with intensity from each forced religious discussion.
The parents cannot continue to think their adult child as still being five years old, unable to correctly apply his or her moral judgment and free will when facing a choice. Parents must accept that their child has become an adult, with his or her opinions about everything from politics to sexual activity to religion. While some of his or her thoughts are morally wrong, as an adult, the son or daughter will need to accept responsibility for his or her decisions.
The most effective effort for parents to assist their adult children in reconnecting with the faith is through prayer and being open to discussions, not arguments, about religion. If we trust in the Lord, then we believe that God will provide, even for the salvation of errant children. We need to believe that God will continue to reintroduce the challenge of our wayward children to turn to the faith as he challenges us to grow closer to him, for he will lead us to salvation.
Remember it is Jesus, not us, who will determine the eternal fate of each person. Therefore, let us never cease to pray, asking Jesus to be merciful to us and those that we love. God’s love is beyond our knowledge, and his love is never ceasing even for the fallen away. As we cannot know the perfection of heaven, we cannot know what God has in store for our loved ones and us at our death.