Spirituality for Today – Spring 2018 – Volume 22, Issue 3


Reverend Mark Connolly

Often times during the Resurrection season, we have a lot of doubts about our life after this one on earth. We become like Thomas in the gospel, filled with all sorts of doubts and really not too willing to believe. During this season of Easter, we talk about the Resurrection of Christ, our personal resurrection after death, and what heaven might be like. Since we have so many fears and often so little knowledge, our doubts begin to grow. This season of the Resurrection finds us reading about the empty tomb, the visit of Mary Magdalene to the tomb, and her finding of the Christ-person in the person of a gardener. Because our imaginations are so finite and limited, it is hard for us to envision what lies ahead after this earth. When you think of the millions of people who have left this earth since the time of Christ, it is hard to think of what our future life with God will be all about.

When we think of heaven, we tend to think that God will have a flowing beard, and that we will be flying around in white robes with wings protruding from our backs, and that harps will be playing soft music. It is a concept of an almost antiseptic existence. It is impersonal and its not really human and not really too appealing.

No matter how we doubt the teachings of the Church, no matter how we are like doubting Thomas in our own ways, we must believe in a heaven if our lives with Christ on earth are to have any meaning.

We must believe first that each one of us, after death, will experience the mercy of God in a most personal way. Whatever sins, transgressions, failures or mistakes we have made, will all be erased through God's mercy. That is why Saint John, in speaking about our Resurrection with Christ, said "There will come a time in our lives after our stay on earth, where there is neither mourning nor grieving and the former things; pain and suffering will have vanished.

The second thing we must keep in mind is that after this life is over, we have a newer form of love to look forward to. God will show the same love to us that he showed to His Son. Christ will personally show to us the love that He showed to His apostles. After this earth we will experience a kind of tenderness, affection and love that could only come from God, and that only God could give to a human being. St. Paul put this beautifully when he wrote, "Your eyes have not seen, nor have yours ears heard the things that God has in store for you.

The third thing we have to look forward to is the kind of life we will have in heaven. What can you do in heaven? The first thing to remember is that we cannot use the language of earth to describe the pleasures of heaven. Heaven will be a place of friendships we established on earth, of new friendship with God, with Christ and with our Blessed Mother. These friendships will grow and last for all eternity. There is no such thing as a heavenly picnic, or barbecue or clambake. It is the state where every need will be satisfied. Every care will vanish and every heart will be at peace.

The doubting Thomas of today's gospel is a reminder that we, as Catholics, can doubt and disagree. He is also a reminder to all of us that when we meet Christ on earth, as Thomas did, we can have eternal happiness with God no matter how much we doubted that God on earth. Thomas is a reminder to all of us of the value of personal doubting and personal believing. They do not necessarily cancel out each other.