Isaiah 55:6-9; Ps 145:2-3 8-9, 17-18; Philippians 1:20c-24, 27a; Matthew 2:1-16a
What is God saying to us through that first reading from the prophet Isaiah? What is Jesus ultimately saying to us in his parable about the workers and his merciful just wages? It is very simple, as I see it. God is telling us that he has a plan for our life here on earth and that there is an awesome reward for those who choose to follow his loving plan.
Jesus summarized the Ten Commandments into two, which some scholars call the great commandment: love God with your whole mind, heart and soul, and love your neighbor as you love yourself. That is God’s program or plan for our lives. Many on earth have never heard this plan nor are they living by it.
As I woke up to Christian radio the other morning, I heard a certain preacher speaking about this. He asked why some airport screening machines do not pick up the keys in his pocket. He said some machines are set higher that others. This is true about children across the world “programed” by their parents and their environment.
We are seeing this clearly in what ISIS is doing in the Middle East and spreading more and more. Reasoning will not change their minds. Their programing is set too deep. You would be killed before you could finish reasoning with them. It seems to many of us that only a direct appearance of Jesus Christ would change their minds. This is why we must pray with great intensity and some fasting, begging Jesus for his solution and protection from this problem.
I love this song of praise today, Psalm 145. We want to praise the Name of Jesus Christ. He is gracious, merciful, kind to all and just in all his way. God is near to all who call upon Him. Like St. Paul to the Philippians today, I want to be in heaven before the throne of Our Father and Jesus worshiping with all the angels and saints in the heavenly choirs. But I have work yet to do here on earth to help get as many into heaven as possible.
What is heaven? You don’t hear much preached about it. In the early part of our Bibles there is a diagram of how the ancients viewed earth without our modern science. The earth was flat with a dome above. The heavens were above the earth and clouds. The sun and moon hung in the dome and water was above it. There were doors in the dome, which opened at times and let down the rain. As science developed with telescopes etc., we discovered much more to heaven—a vast universe with countless numbers of suns, stars and planets, a vast universe that we have not found the end of yet.
In our spiritual sense, heaven is not another planet or solar system that we have not discovered yet. It is a state of being or like going through a “white hole” in space to another existence where everything is perfect and beautiful, with wonderful music all the time and no sad songs. If we look through the last book in our Bible, in Revelations we see various visions that St. John the Apostle was shown about heaven. We see this in chapter 1, 4 and 5, with worship around the thrones of Our Father and the Lamb, Jesus Christ.
In 7:5, the destructive angels were told not to harm “the land or the sea or the trees until we imprint this seal on the foreheads of the servants of our God.” This is why a cross is traced on the forehead of a newly baptized person. In 7:17 we read: “…for the Lamb on the throne will shepherd them (his people). He will lead them to springs of life giving water, and God will wipe every tear from their eyes.” (See also Revelations 21:4, Isaiah 25:8 and Psalm 92:14. Revelation chapters 19-22 teach us about who is in this heavenly glory and what they are doing there. It is awesome to read and really think about. Try it; you’ll like it.
In John 14:1-6, Jesus speaks about leaving earth and going to heaven to prepare a “house” for his faithful followers there. He did that after his earthly ascension. John 14:3 says: “I am indeed going to prepare a place for you, and then I shall come back to take you with Me, that where I am you also may be.” Let us continue our good work here and be ready whenever Jesus comes back to take us home. None of us knows when that time will come for us.
There are many secular books about “Life After Life.” Dr. Raymond A Moody, MD, has come across countless numbers of those who have had “near death experiences.” He has written 30 books about it in the last 50 years. Heaven is for real. St. Paul says in 1 Corinthians 2:9: “Eye has not seen, ear has not heard, nor has it so much as dawned on us what God has prepared for those who love Him.” And John 10:10 says: “I have come that you might have life and have it more abundantly.” With Hebrews 12:2a: “Let us keep our eyes fixed on Jesus, who inspires and perfects our faith.” Let us keep running the race with our eyes focused on the prize of heavenly glory.
Have a glorious week filled with the living water of Christ. For most of you, I’ll see you in heaven.
Blessings + Fr. Bob Hilz.
(© 2014 Fr. Bob Hilz, TOR)