At this time of year the daylight hours grow shorter as the nights become longer and colder. Leaves drop from the trees which seem to go into a suspended period of dormancy. And here in California, raging winds with their accompanying wildfires have become the “new normal.” These natural forces can turn our thoughts to the death of our loved ones, our own inevitable death and even to wondering about the end of the world. Many cultures, past and present, have customs, observances or rituals in the fall to deal with these realities, to remember departed loved ones and even to laugh at death.
The Church, in her wisdom, gives us HOPE at this time of year by focusing on resurrection and on God’s immeasurable love, mercy and faithfulness. As the liturgical year comes to an end over the next three weeks, the scriptures read at Mass may seem at first to be frightening and ominous, but their message is ultimately about God’s gift of eternal life. As Jesus tells us in today’s Gospel, God “is not God of the dead but of the living, for to him all are alive.”
The Resurrection is foundational to our Christian faith. At the end of the Apostle’s Creed, which we recite on Sunday, we say that we “believe in the resurrection of the body and life everlasting.” Jesus’ resurrection is a promise of eternal life for all of us.
How do you imagine heaven will be? With our human limitations of understanding we use terms like paradise, banquet, clothed in white robes, shining like stars, being like angels, bathed in pure light. Or we think that heaven will be a better version of this life. But the life that God has in mind for us is beyond anything we can imagine!
For me, the most meaningful expression of heaven is this: God is LOVE and has loved us all into being. Ultimately we will be enfolded by the loving arms of God, Father, Son and Spirit, into their perfect bond of eternal love. What an existence that will be!