“Imagine There’s No Heaven”

Guardian reports that the pope suggests, “It’s easy if you try.” Heaven for Benedict is an abstraction, being in God’s love, not a real place. They’re reporting on his homily for the feast of the Assumption.

All of us are conscious today that with the term “heaven,” we do not refer to some place in the universe, to a star or something similar: no. We refer to something much bigger and more difficult to define with our limited human concepts. With this term “heaven,” we mean to affirm that God, the God who has made himself close to us, does not abandon us, not even in death and beyond it, but that he has a place for us and he gives us eternity; we want to affirm that there is a place for us in God. To understand this reality somewhat more, let us look at our own life: We all know that when a person dies he continues to subsist in the memory and the heart of those who knew and loved him. We could say that a part of that person continues to live in them, but it is as a “shadow” because this survival in the heart of his loved ones is also destined to end. God instead never passes and all of us exist because of his love. We exist because he loves us, because he has thought of us and called us to life. We exist in the thoughts and love of God. We exist in all our reality, not only in our “shadow.” Our serenity, our hope, our peace are founded precisely on this: on God, on his thought and on his love, it is not only a “shadow” of ourselves that survives, but that in him, in his creative love, we are kept and introduced with our whole life, with our whole being into eternity.

It is his love that conquers death and gives us eternity, and it is this love that we call “heaven”: God is so great that he also has a space for us.

That’s not how Jesus spoke of heaven. He said, “I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also” (John 14:2-3). And the book of Revelation promises,

1Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. 2I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. 3And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. 4He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”

God has more for us than for us merely to be a twinkling in his eye forever.

4 thoughts on ““Imagine There’s No Heaven”

  1. I think it helps to read the rest of the sermon to the end:

    “God is so great that he also has a space for us. And the man Jesus, who is at the same time God, is for us the guarantee that being-man and being-God can exist and live eternally in one another. This means that each one of us will not continue existing only in a part that has been, so to speak, wrenched from us, while the rest is ruined; it means rather that God knows and loves the whole man, what we are. And God receives in his eternity what now, in our life, made up of suffering and love, of hope, of joy and sadness, grows and comes to be. The whole man, the whole of his life is taken by God and, purified in him, receives eternity.

    Dear friends! I think this is a truth that should fill us with joy. Christianity does not proclaim merely a certain salvation of the soul in some imprecise place beyond, in which everything in this world that was precious and loved by us is erased, but it promises eternal life, “the life of the world to come”: Nothing of what is precious and loved will be ruined, but will find its fulfillment in God.”

  2. If heaven were a place somewhere in this universe, we could get there on a spaceship. That would be more of a mormon or scientologist idea than a traditional Christian idea. Furthermore, heaven would not then be eternal it would die out with a whimper in billions of years as entropy increased to a maximum.

    Read again what the pope said. He didn’t say that believers will live on as twinkles, he said that they will REALLY live on, the whole man body and soul, for eternity.

    • For a body to live on, it requires a definite place.

      And I would suggest that your idea of the universe dying out of necessity is not a Christian concept–it’s a product of atheistic cosmology.

  3. “And we look to the resurrection of the dead”.

    The materiality of heaven is, as always, a Catholic domga. Benedict does not deny Catholic dogma.

    God the Creator set the laws of the universe in motion. What the laws of our renewed, spiritualized corporality will be are, perhaps a secret known only to him.

    “Beloved, we know what we are children of God know, what will still yet be has not been revealed, but we will become like Him, for we will see Him as He is.”

    “Now, as through a mirror dimly lit…”

    It’s still the same thing essentially, but we can’t quite foresee the tree from the seed. Earth will be like a tree bursting out from a seed.

Comments are closed.