LECTIO DIVINA FRAGMENTS: What will heaven be like?
Being nearly 82 years of age, the one thought that keeps popping up in my Lectio Divina meditations is unlikely. If I die, where will I go? What will it be like? If my focus is to be more like Christ and less like me, what does that look like?
THOUGHTS FROM AN OLD, BROKEN-DOWN TEMPLE OF THE HOLY SPIRIT
St. Paul writes that he caught a glimpse of heaven, in or out of the body. Read the full text.
I* must boast; not that it is profitable, but I will go on to visions and revelations of the Lord.
2I know someone in Christ who, fourteen years ago (whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows), was caught up to the third heaven.
3And I know that this person (whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows)
4was caught up into Paradise and heard ineffable things, which no one may utter.a
5About this person* I will boast, but about myself I will not boast, except about my weaknesses.
6Although if I should wish to boast, I would not be foolish, for I would be telling the truth. But I refrain, so that no one may think more of me than what he sees in me or hears from me
7because of the abundance of the revelations. Therefore, that I might not become too elated,* a thorn in the flesh was given to me, an angel of Satan, to beat me, to keep me from being too elated.b
8Three times* I begged the Lord about this, that it might leave me,c
9* but he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.” I will rather boast most gladly of my weaknesses,* in order that the power of Christ may dwell with me.d
10Therefore, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and constraints, for the sake of Christ;e for when I am weak, then I am strong.*
- Do you know what happens to humans when they journey outside of our earth for long periods? We are gaining more insight into this. I am concerned that we don’t do well in space or on planets like Mars. We are created for earth. Our earth’s DNA evolved from gravity, using our five senses to interpret languages, and our organs have evolved to accommodate our early conditions like bacteria and health issues. I bring this up to illustrate a point. Is Heaven like that spaceship where we must go to a place where we can live eternity? I don’t know.
- I think the excellent thinking on this is that after they die, humans go to an earth-like space where our bodies are glorified, just like Christ’s body was after he rose from the dead. Mary, we hold, was assumed into heaven body and blood. What does that mean? I am not sure, but here are some thoughts that percolated out of my meditations on heaven.
- Is heaven like the Garden of Eden before the Fall?
- Will we be naked and not worry about not having control over our procreation proclivity? I don’t know.
- If we have a body, we will have bodily functions and health issues like we did when we lived. Will there be hospitals? Who will staff them? What equipment will be used?
- Humans can’t exist without water. Will there be water and food there for us? Will we have to use the bathroom as we do now?
- The Father has reserved many rooms for us, says Scripture.
- How will we pay for our accommodations?
- Is there oxygen in this new Jerusalem?
- Does God make a containment field where people will bring what they discovered their heaven on earth to be?
- Will bodies have mass and atoms, organs, and pain?
- Scripture says there is no marriage or giving in marriage in heaven. So, do we have sexual gratification there?
- Will we have Netflix or Hulu?
- Are there any books to read?
- All of these items above are what I am used to on earth. What happens when you replace what I have made my condition of life on earth with what I don’t know and have no frame of reference?
- Does heaven (and hell) begin with Baptism, and we start packing for the trip to heaven by practicing how to live there while still on earth?
- What can I stash in the suitcase of my life that will make it through the x-machines into heaven?
- Is reconciliation and forgiveness on earth one way I must take out those values and experiences that will not make it through customs?
- After I die, there must be more than to stand before the Throne of the Lamb in adoration and thanksgiving. I am hoping so, but a part of me says I want to bring the fullness of what I have discovered my humanity to be. How does that work? Again, I am thinking like a human rather than an adopted son.
- St. Paul says, “You have no idea what God has planning for those who love him.” Faith tells me that I am blessed with believing even if I don’t see it fully. Hope tells me God keeps his promise to me (and all humans) to be an adopted son (daughter) of the Father and heir to His Kingdom. Love tells me that what makes me most human, my nature intended before the Fall will allow me to be what I should be, with God’s grace and energy.
I look forward to that last great adventure using all the tools and help Christ gives me daily. Lord, I believe, help my unbelief. -St. Thomas Aquinas