Thursday, April 24, 2008

VATICAN - AVE MARIA by Mgr Luciano Alimandi - “We are made for heaven”

Vatican City (Agenzia Fides) - “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You trust in God, trust also in me. In my Father's house there are many places to live in; otherwise I would have told you. I am going now to prepare a place for you, and after I have gone and prepared you a place, I shall return to take you to myself, so that you may be with me where I am” (Jn 14, 2-3).

In this passage of the Gospel of Saint John, the Lord Jesus, after telling his disciples not to be anxious, but to have faith in God and in Him (cfr. Jn 14, 1), speaks of heaven as a “home”! It is good and consoling to know that He himself will come to fetch us and take us up to heaven when our place is ready, as he promised to the Apostles, and to all those who in the future will believe in his name.

Sad to say, we hardly ever think of heaven as the Father's House where we are expected, a safe and wonderful home, where we will live forever with the angels and saints. The desire for heaven requires in fact "unswerving" faith on the part of the disciple; unswerving faith in Jesus' promises which leaves no room for hesitation or doubt, but instead gives the believer a truly supernatural vision.

A supernatural vision does not stop at what is visible, it goes beyond the earthly reality and penetrates into the invisible reality of the next life, of which the then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger spoke in his memorable homily at the funeral of John Paul II, offering the whole world the example of a vision which reaches Heaven: “None of us can ever forget how in that last Easter Sunday of his life, the Holy Father, marked by suffering, came once more to the window of the Apostolic Palace and one last time gave his blessing "urbi et orbi." We can be sure that our beloved Pope is standing today at the window of the Father’s house, that he sees us and blesses us. Yes, bless us, Holy Father. We entrust your dear soul to the Mother of God, your Mother, who guided you each day and who will guide you now to the eternal glory of her Son, our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen” (8 April 2005). Faith which is "unswerving" enables the Lord's disciple to say with firm conviction: an eternal homes awaits us!

Yes, the House of the Father, the heaven of the blessed, is invisible to a natural vision, but not to the eyes of the spirit illuminated by the Word of God.

Faith which is weak, “feeble”, cannot see beyond earthly horizons to heaven, because it remains a prisoner of the immanent, of itself, unable to open to the transcendent , to God. Faith which is “uncertain" cannot reach heaven, it falls back to earth, conquered by the “force of gravity” of earthly reality. It tries to overcome these realities, but is unable to renounce worldly logic. In the earthly logic, time and space are the only co-ordinates whereas in the non-earthly logic, reason opens to faith, and the infinite and eternity become “heavenly coordinates ” which show man, created in the image and likeness of God, his final destination: Heaven!

Only in those who make themselves small before God and realize that they cannot live alone, does faith find space and frees from the prison of immanence. The true believer, according to Saint Paul, becomes a “heavenly person”, who orients his or her life towards eternity and recognizes in Christ the measure for all reality: including behavior and decisions.

At the school of Most Holy Mary, day by day we learn to become ever more convincing witnesses of the resurrection, filled with Easter faith which enables us to see, even though in the distance, the Father's House and in it our home. Therefore, together with St Paul, we too can say: “For we are well aware that when the tent that houses us on earth is folded up, there is a house for us from God, not made by human hands but everlasting, in the heavens. And in this earthly state we do indeed groan, longing to put on our heavenly home over the present one; if indeed we are to be found clothed rather than stripped bare. Yes, indeed, in this present tent, we groan under the burden, not that we want to be stripped of our covering, but because we want to be covered with a second garment on top, so that what is mortal in us may be swallowed up by life. It is God who designed us for this very purpose, and he has given us the Spirit as a pledge. We are always full of confidence, then, realising that as long as we are at home in the body we are exiled from the Lord, guided by faith and not yet by sight” (2 Cor 5, 1-7).

(Agenzia Fides 23/4/2008; righe 50, parole 765)