April 2006 - Volume 10, Issue 9

A Place Called Heaven

By Rev. Mark Connolly

Photo of the sky that looks like Heaven

There is a hardly a day that goes by that we do not hear more bad news. It is the tragic war in Iraq. It is an earthquake in Mexico. It is the jobless economy in our country. It is some murder that is being committed in New York. It is the death of twelve American tourists who died tragically in Chile. Day after day it is a diet of bad news. This month, inasmuch as we celebrate Easter, I would like to talk to you about one word which should be good news for all of us. It is the word Heaven.

This word is mentioned over 611 times in the New Testament. It is a reminder that all of us one day will leave this world and we will go into the arms of God and that place is called Heaven. When we celebrate the Resurrection of Christ, it is a reminder to all of us that all of the sufferings He endured on Good Friday, the agony, the scourging, the crowning and the crucifixion had one goal in mind, to enable each one of us to achieve the place called the kingdom of Heaven. Holy Thursday reminders us how Christ changed lifeless bread into the bread of life. Good Friday reminds us of the suffering he paid for us. Easter Sunday is a reminder of the reward He gained for us namely Heaven.

None of us ever want to think about our death. But to be realistic, to be totally honest, we know we are going to die. That is not morbid, that is not to be pessimistic, that is not to be a continuation of the bad news we hear daily. Our death leads us in a transitional state in this place we call earth to the place we call heaven.

All of this is based on your faith. All of this is based on your faith in Jesus Christ and His victory on Good Friday. When you think that every major Catholic and Christian scholar from that death of Jesus Christ has told us about this place called Heaven. It is certainly up to us to take their words and writing seriously. We have a destiny with God. St. Bonaventure once said, "in Heaven there will be no climate of fear. There will be no sense of restlessness." Each one will have a different degree of serenity and each one will experience what Christ spoke about when He said, "my peace I leave you, my peace I give unto you."

In heaven, according to St. Bonaventure, there will be a climate of forgiveness where we will experience in a unique fashion the mercy and love of God. We will see the injustices of this world corrected. You know as well as I do when you look at the people who are living in the squalor and abject poverty in Bangladesh and Haiti that they certainly are victims of injustice of this world in which we live. St. Bonaventure said, true justice deserved by everyone will be shown in Heaven, especially if we lack it on earth.

Painting of Saint Paul

When you analyze Heaven and you think of the words of St. Paul where he said, "your eyes have not seen nor your ears heard or has it entered your heart what God has in store for you," that is a reminder of what awaits all of us. When you think of the writings of St. John where he says, "the former things of this world will have passed away, there will be neither mourning nor grieving", in other words there will be no cancer, heart attacks, strokes or Alzheimer's for we will be in a place under the total protection of an all loving God. When you take the writings of St. Paul, St. John, St. Augustine and St. Thomas, all of them point to a great world that waits for all of us.

This takes personal, deep faith. If you don't nurture your faith, if you do not nurture your sense of hope, if you do not develop a solid love of God on earth, you might miss what God has planned for all of us, a home beyond this, an earth that will find us experiencing everlasting peace and everlasting joy in the arms of God.