Fr. Joe Pellegrino
On Heaven

The readings today speak about heaven. None of us know what heaven is like, even though my good friend, Msgr Brendan Muldoon, sings that heaven must be like Ireland because my mother comes from there. I wonder if people from Egypt sing that heaven must be like Egypt because my mummy comes from there.

A very holy member of our parish, Fred, came up to one of our priests, I won’t say which one, and asked him what he knew abut heaven. The priest said, "Well, it is a mystery, but we do know that everyone is happy there." Then the parishioner asked. "What I really want to know is if there are golf courses in heaven." The priest responded, "Sorry Fred, I have no idea." But that night the priest had a dream about heaven. The next morning he called Fred up and he said, "Fred, I dreamed about heaven. There were golf courses there. The fairways were beautiful. The greens were smooth, there are no sand traps, and you're teeing off tomorrow."

The people of Jesus's time could not imagine what heaven was like either. They were so caught up in the physical that some of them called Sadducees figured that life after death would cause too many problems even for God to handle. For example, "Who would be the husband of a woman who had been widowed seven times?" Jesus's answer was that the Sadducees were being ridiculous. In heaven the only thing that would matter would be the spiritual relationship that people had with each other and with God. People's ways of viewing things would not be like God's ways of viewing things.

You and I do not know what heaven is like, but we do know what God is like. We see his beauty reflected in creation. We see his beauty in our children. We see his beauty in the many people who are so dedicated to him. We see his beauty in the sunset, and in flowers and butterflies and in all the wonders of nature. St. Paul says that the eye has not seen nor the ear heard the wonders God has in store for us.

Sometimes when we experience death in families with little children, the children may ask how come Grandma or Grandpa died. It really is not a good idea to say that God needed Grandma or Grandpa in heaven. That makes God the cause of our grief. Besides, God is infinite, he doesn't have needs. It is better to say that from the day we were born all of us had just so many years to bring God's love, and his smile and his hugs to the world. For some people this may only be for just a few years, for others it may be for many, many years. When those years are over, if we have done our best to bring God's love and his smile and his hugs to the world, then God takes us to himself in heaven where we are full of his love, and enjoy his smile and his infinitely warm hugs. And remind the children that those who are with God in heaven continue to love his people still on earth, especially those who were the closest to them.

For us adults in our considerations of heaven we shouldn't be as concerned with future life as with everlasting life. Future life is a consideration out there, beyond our understanding. Everlasting life is the continuation of the life of Christ right here. We cannot do anything about the future life, but we can do everything about everlasting life. We can accept the Life of Christ. We can grow in the life of Christ. We can spread the life of Christ to our children and those with whom we associate, we can build the Kingdom of God.

People throughout the ages have been attracted to Christianity because Jesus' living presence is evident among his people. We need to be less concerned with what heaven is like and more concerned with making God's kingdom a reality here on earth.

We need to reach out to the poor. We need to fight against injustice and intolerance. We need to take stands against immorality. We need to train ourselves and our children to value the spiritual over the physical. We need to nurture the seeds of God's love in the world.

If the goal of our lives is to make heaven a reality on earth, then all the questions we might have about life after death, what heaven is like, etc. will take care of themselves after our time on earth is over.

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