A rainbow is a promise. God our Father reaffirmed the promise He made about our Redemption in the Garden of Eden (Gen 3:15) when Noah landed on the rock after having spent forty days and forty nights in the ark during the flood. The Lord stopped the rain, and gave us a double rainbow.
“God said: `Here is the sign of the Covenant I make between Myself and every living creature with you for all generations; I set My bow in the clouds and it shall be a sign of the Covenant between Myself and you and every living creature of every kind.” (Gen 9:12-15)
Our Lord Jesus fulfilled the promise that God the Father made. As he committed to St. Dismas, the good thief, from the Cross, He also pledges to us:
“Indeed, I promise you, this day you will be with Me inParadise.” (Luke 22:43)
We believe that when we die, when we shake off this mortal coil, (William Shakespeare – Hamlet) we go to the next step in our eternal existence, from a physical, bodily life, to a new life, a new beginning.
We read that in Heaven we will know perfect happiness. We will see God in His Beatific Vision, in the fullness of His Glory. St. Thomas Aquinas, after having a vision of Heaven, stopped writing his Summa Theologiae, and stated to one of the brothers, “The end of my labors has come. All that I have written appears to be as so much straw after the things that have been revealed to me.” (Butler’s Lives of the Saints )
Some questions most asked are: “How close to the Lord will I be in Heaven? Will I know the Lord like the Saints know Him?” It reminds us of the time when the mother of James and John asked of Jesus:
“Command that these two sons of mine sit, one at Your right and the other at Your left, in Your kingdom.” (Matt 20:21)
You recall He replied to James and John:
“…to sit at My right and My left, this is not Mine to give but it is for those for whom it has been prepared by My Father.”(Matt 20:23)
How well do you know Jesus on earth? Is He your priority? Who is your God? Is it god with a small “g” or the One and true God with a capital “G” Whom you worship? In Paul’s letters to the Romans, he answers this question most clearly:
“For those who live according to the flesh are concerned with the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the spirit with the things of the spirit. The concern of the flesh is death, but the concern of the spirit is life and peace.” (Romans 8:5-6)
How much time do you spend on matters of the spirit, of eternal life, in preparation for life with the Lord in Heaven? And how much time do you spend on the preservation of the body, the flesh that is decaying and passing away? It is the spirit which remains with us, our soul.
How much time do you spend getting to know Jesus? Is it difficult to believe that it would come to pass that those who have loved the Lord more on earth will love Him more and have more of Him in Heaven? As you cannot love someone you do not know, the more you have gotten to know Him on earth, the greater capacity you will have to love Him in Heaven. It makes sense! A thimble full of liquid is as full as a gallon jug. One is not fuller than the other, but one takes in a greater capacity than the other. The Mercy of God in Heaven is that you will never know what you are missing. If you did, it would not be Heaven; it would not be perfect happiness. We believe you will have the fullness of His Love, but is it to the fullness of how much you have loved Him? No one really knows; but what do you think?
For me, I want to have the most of Him in Heaven and on earth that I, in my imperfections and weaknesses, can possibly have. I walk confident, with faith in my Lord Jesus and inSt. Paul’s words which reassure us,
“And the One who searches hearts knows what is the intention of the Spirit, because it intercedes for the holy ones according to God’s Will.” (Romans 8:27)
Whatever He deigns to give me, I know I will be ecstatic, for I know that the love that He has for me, and for you, far surpasses our hopes and dreams. He is the Cup of Love Which runs over. We can not drink enough to empty the cup of never-ending love which He pours out to us.
To me, Heaven must be like when we are about to go on a pilgrimage. Our pilgrimages have always been longer than just the weeks at the Shrines, because we are preparing months before, in anticipation of what is to come. Do we look upon Heaven in the same way? If we do, then we will be able to sample a little bit of Heaven right here on earth. When we instruct pilgrims to prepare for their pilgrimage, we always suggest they read background material on the Saints or the Apparitions or perhaps the Miracles of the Eucharist so that when they arrive at the Shrine, they will know and understand more what the Lord has in store for them; and in so doing, will get so much more out of their pilgrimage.
Our time on earth is a pilgrimage to our final Home, with Heaven in our sights. We need someone with experience to guide us on a pilgrimage to the Shrines. What makes us think we can find our way to Heaven without assistance? If you go on a pilgrimage which turns out instead to be a tour, with a guide who knows little about the Shrines and the Apparitions, the Saints and the Miracles, etc., then you will not receive all that the Lord, His Mother, the Angels and the Saints have prepared for you at the different Shrines. Heaven is the Shrine, we all long to go to, where we will be in the company of the Lord and His whole Heavenly family. Will we know Him and them? As most of us studied long and hard to learn professions, so that we could live more fully our time on earth, do we not think it worth it to spend the rest of our lives learning about our Faith, so that we will live more fully our eternal time in Heaven?
Heaven and Holy Scripture
Heaven is mentioned frequently in Holy Scripture.
Jesus spoke of Heaven when He was delivering the Sermon on the Mount, in one of the Beatitudes:
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” (Matt 5:3)
Then in John’s Gospel, Jesus refers to Heaven as His Father’s house:
“In My Father’s house there are many dwelling places. If there were not, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you?” (John 14:2)
In St. Peter’s epistle, we hear Heaven once again mentioned, as the crown of glory:
“And when the chief Shepherd is revealed, you will receive the unfading crown of glory.” (Peter 5:4)
St. Paulmentions Heaven repeatedly, as he brings hope to us, for ourselves and our loved ones. He also teaches what will be required from us to achieve that crown of glory:
“But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the spirit is alive because of righteousness.”
“If the Spirit of the One Who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, the One Who raised Christ from the dead will give life to your mortal bodies also, through His Spirit that dwells in you.” (Romans 8:10-11)
“The Spirit itself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if only we suffer with Him so that we may also be glorified with Him.”
“I consider that the sufferings of this present time are as nothing compared with the glory to be revealed for us.” (Romans 8:16-18)
“Those He predestined He likewise called; those He called He also justified; and those He justified He in turn glorified.” (Romans 8:30)
Bob and Penny Lord