A Penitent Blogger

Mindful of my imperfections, seeking to know Truth more deeply and to live Love more fully.

Quid sum miser tunc dicturus? Quem patronum rogaturus? Cum vix iustus sit securus?
Recordare, Iesu pie, Quod sum causa tuae viae: Ne me perdas illa die...

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Get your mind out of the clouds

Pearly gates and halo crowns
And feath'ry wings to fly around
And golden harps with wondrous sound
I've looked at heav'n that way.

(Apologies to Joni Mitchell)

Such is the image that some people have of heaven: an image that is too often ridiculed and rejected by others who consider themselves "intelligent and sophisticated."

Many people have tried to imagine what heaven is like. Very often they have trouble figuring out the logistics, the physics, and other details in their own minds.

Based on today's first reading (1 Corinthians 15:35-27, 42-49), one may conclude that the Corinthians looked at heaven and at the resurrection that way: trying to figure out the details to the point of despair.

St. Paul is brusque in his response.

Someone may say, "How are the dead raised?
With what kind of body will they come back?"

You fool!

St. Paul does not respond with specific details, but tries to drum into the heads of the Corinthians that resurrected reality will be different.

And what you sow
is not the body that is to be
but a bare kernel of wheat, perhaps,
or of some other kind;
but God gives it a body as he chooses....

So also is the resurrection of the dead.

It is sown corruptible;
it is raised incorruptible.
It is sown dishonorable;
it is raised glorious.
It is sown weak;
it is raised powerful.
It is sown a natural body;
it is raised a spiritual body.

(He then parallels Adam with Christ. )

The first man
was from the earth, earthly;
the second man,
from heaven.

As was the earthly one,
so also are the earthly,
and as is the heavenly one,
so also are the heavenly.

Just as we have borne
the image of the earthly one,
we shall also bear
the image of the heavenly one.

When it comes to the realities of eternity and infinity, we cannot let ourselves stumble because of the limits of our knowledge or even of our imagination, as St. Paul says elsewhere in this same letter:

For our knowledge is imperfect
and our prophecy is imperfect;
but when the perfect comes,
the imperfect will pass away.

When I was a child,
I spoke like a child,
I thought like a child,
I reasoned like a child;
when I became a man,
I gave up childish ways.

For now we see in a mirror dimly,
but then face to face.

Now I know in part;
then I shall understand fully,
even as I have been fully understood.
(1 Corinithians 13:9-12)

But, as it is written,
"What no eye has seen,
nor ear heard,
nor the heart of man conceived,
what God has prepared for those who love him,"
God has revealed to us
through the Spirit.

For the Spirit searches everything,
even the depths of God.

(1 Corinthians 2:9-10)

When it comes to contemplating the things of heaven and the life of the world to come, we cannot let ourselves be limited by clouds or by anything of this world.

In the meantime, we hold the revelation of the Risen Christ close to our hearts, we open our minds to the light of the Holy Spirit, and we live according to the grace of God in hope of resurrection and of the eternal joy to come.

It will be greater and more wonderful than anything we can imagine: the infinitely many and infinitely happy sides of heaven.