One of the most difficult meditations a person can have concerns his life after his time on earth is over. The Easter season, with the themes of Alleluia and Resurrection, remind us of a better life or an after life. All sorts of questions come into our minds about our death and what happens after we die. If you read the gospels and the New Testament, you will soon find that the writers of these pages strongly believed in a life after this one on earth. In the New Testament the words Heaven and eternal life are mentioned over 600 times. For the writers of the New Testament, after our death, a new form of existence takes place. There is a life style unlike any we have ever experienced.
When St. Paul wrote that after death your eyes will see and your mind will understand what God has in store for you, he was telling his followers of the glorious home called Heaven that awaits those who loved and served God on earth. The followers of Christ and St. Paul believed that the Bible was the inspired word of God, that there was no deception in it, and that Heaven would be a reality after their death.
St. John in his description of the world that awaits us said there would be neither mourning nor grieving, the former things of earth will have passed away. If his words were to be made more contemporary, he could say look there is a place waiting for you where there is no cancer, where there is no stress or pain, where joys unlike anything on earth will be experienced by you.
These themes from the Gospels and the New Testament have been written and spoken about for centuries. From the time of St. Jerome, St. Augustine, St. Thomas, Mother Teresa, the teaching about life after death has been constant.
All of these beliefs demand faith and hope. All of these teachings are based on the teachings of Christ and his victory over death. Either you believe and trust in the person of Christ and his teachings or you don't.
The teachings about Heaven as taught by Christ and the Church are going to bring a lot of answers to those questions that puzzled us on earth.
If you study the teachings and Gospels of Christ, you will soon see that the teaching about the mercy of God is going to be totally understood in Heaven. All that Christ asks is that we trust in Him, believe in Him and try to follow His teachings. One of which is his mercy. The Christ we will meet in Heaven is the one who when on earth said, I will forgive you seventy times seven. This same Christ when we meet him face to face is going to show us what he meant by the expression seventy times seven. The mercy of God, experienced, is going to be more gratifying than the joy the ten lepers received, more beautiful than the raising of the daughter of Jairus. The mercy of God is that personal touch of Christ welcoming us with one of the mansions he has prepared for us.
Heaven awaits all of us after our death. And this demands faith and trust and hope in Christ and His teachings. Not only is it the place where the mercy of God will be felt, but also where the justice of God can be experienced. All of us at one time in our lives have wondered about the justice of God. On this other side of Heaven, in this place we call earth, where we live and work, we can never forget that the most perfect faith will leave us with a lot of unanswered questions and that the most perfect hope will leave us with an awful lot of unresolved problems.
No matter how deep our faith and hope might be illness and sickness will be with us until the consummation of the world. The quality of justice that points out inequities, that tells us about the haves and have nots, about the people who are innocent and seem to suffer, or the people who are unethical and seem to prosper. These are things that cry out to Heaven for an answer. And it is only going to be in Heaven that we will understand what justice and mercy are all about from God's point of view. Why God allows killing in Bosnia and Northern Ireland or Israel, why he permits certain unexplainable tragedies to take place, will only be answered when we meet Christ face to face. There is no doubt in the mind of any great Scripture scholar or theologian that those who have been victims of injustice, through the mercy of God, will also experience the mansions that Christ has prepared for those who loved and served him on earth.
As long as we are on this earth the subject of our personal death and what happens afterwards will always preoccupy our thinking at some time in our lives.
Men like Plato, when talking about life after death mentioned a new and better life style that awaited those who died. Socrates talked about a life style after death that would bring forth a higher form of existence. Elizabeth Barrett Browning, in writing about life after death, said, "I will love thee with the breath, smiles, tears, of all my life! - and, if God choose, I shall but love thee better after death."
Anyone who reads the New Testament knows of the love of Christ for everyone. His message was simple. If you love God and your neighbor, if you love others as I have loved you, if you keep my commandments, you will have a reward, a joy, an experience that can never be experienced on earth. You will have the reward of a God who will love you for all time, a Christ who will share more love with you, a home that will be eternal, a life that will be sublime. The Kingdom of God, the place we call Heaven, will be yours.