Hereafter: 2nd Sunday of Lent

 

“The main object of religion is not to get a man into heaven; but to get heaven into him.”

-Thomas Hardy

              God has created this life and this world good. Now, let us ask ourselves, is this life only worthwhile because it leads to something better? Does this life have value only because it is a means to an end? If we answer yes to these questions, then we have totally misunderstood Christianity. God has created this life good and took delight in it. When creation has fallen, He did not gave up on it but rather became part of it in order to redeem it and renew it. If we see this life’s meaning only in terms of the future, then we have devalued and desecrated it. A religion that views this life as a mere place of passage, as something to be endured for the sake of the hereafter, is not Christianity.

                When God became man through the mystery of the Incarnation, He dignified, transfigured, and exalted the meaning of human life. The transfiguration of Jesus reminds us that the reign of God is both a present and a future reality. Heaven is not up there, beyond the clouds, Jesus has brought heaven here. God does not dwell in a space above, God is with us. Thus, heaven is already in the world and within our experience. The challenge is to see heaven not as a place of destination but rather a state of being.

                Due to our flaws and imperfections of this world, this vision of heaven may be blurred. The only way to see it clearly is through Jesus. What has been promised to Abraham has already been fulfilled. Through Jesus we have become one family under God. Heaven on earth is a reality if we view one another as all children of God, as brothers and sisters. The Psalm reminds us that even though this world is dark, we have nothing to fear, for God is our light and our salvation –that heaven is the light of God’s presence in this world of darkness. St Paul exhorts us to seek heaven for it is our true home and destiny, to find the hope that Christ will transfigure us and this world despite its infinite flaws and imperfections.

                The Kingdom of God is Jesus himself and we are the body of Christ. Let us therefore heed the Father’s calling to listen to Jesus –to this Jesus who has called us to partake of His mission to transform the world and establish the reign of God. Our experience of heaven depends on this. Let us begin in our relationships and responsibilities. Heaven in its basic definition is happiness and so let us work for happiness with all the people we touch in our lives. And in finding heaven, may we not be like Peter who wants to remain up there beyond the clouds; for happiness can only be perfected when it is shared. Let us ponder upon heaven by asking everyone we love this question, what is heaven to me without you?

                Hereafter is a noun that refers to the afterlife but as an adverb it means: from now on. And so from now on, heaven is here.

Hereafter

2nd Sunday of Lent Year C

1st Reading: Gen 15:5-12, 17-18

Ps 27:1, 7-8, 8-9, 13-14

2nd Reading: Phil 3:17-4:1

Gospel: Lk 9:28b-36

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