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Heaven on My Mind
Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Jesus said to his disciples: “The Kingdom of heaven is like a treasure buried in a field, which a person finds and hides again, and out of joy goes and sells all that he has and buys that field. Again, the Kingdom of heaven is like a merchant searching for fine pearls. When he finds a pearl of great price, he goes and sells all that he has and buys it.”
Opening Prayer: Lord, as you talk of heaven, help me to listen attentively and learn something of the truth you are trying to teach me about the ultimate destiny of every faithful Christian.
- The Kingdom of Heaven Is Like…: In these lines of Scripture, Our Lord shared with us a description of his Father’s Kingdom—his own thoughts about heaven. If we’re honest, we should all contemplate heaven often. Heaven is the home of the Trinity, of the Blessed Mother, and of the saints known and unknown. Heaven is our ultimate destiny, our eternal home. Although shrouded in mystery, heaven is as real as the everyday reality of our lives. Heaven can be known here and now, and experienced, not in its totality while we live, but in periodic moments of spiritual consolation. Jesus wants us to know about heaven and could have used many different words to explain it to all of us, but let’s look at the similes he chose and what they tell us about the Kingdom.
- Heaven Is like a Treasure Buried in a Field…: Experiences of heaven on earth are like treasures buried in a field of ordinary day-to-day events. When we have a soul-expanding experience of God, we don’t forget it. It might necessarily recede from the foreground of our thoughts as we go about living, but recalling it brings the “treasure” back into focus, spiritually and sometimes also emotionally or physically. These little glimmers of the divine compel us to seek God ever more deeply—to “sell all we have and buy the field.” St. Teresa of Avila explains: “[Divine favors] appear to dilate and enlarge us internally, and benefit us in an inexplicable manner, nor does even the soul itself understand what it receives. It is conscious of what may be described as a certain fragrance, as if within its inmost depths were a brazier sprinkled with sweet perfumes. Although the spirit neither sees the flame nor knows where it is, yet it is penetrated by the warmth, and scented fumes, which are even sometimes perceived by the body (The Interior Castle, Chapter II, St. Teresa of Avila).
- Heaven Is like a Merchant Searching…: Seeking the pearl of great price requires our time, attention and effort—we dedicate the best moments of our day to the task. During our daily conversation with Christ, as we seek the pearl of great price, we fulfill our mission and purpose: “to know [God], to love him, and to serve him in this world, and to be happy with him forever in heaven” (Baltimore Catechism). We avail ourselves of heaven on earth—an experience of Jesus. “We can touch Christ’s heart and feel him touching ours. Only in this personal relationship with Christ, only in this encounter with the risen One do we truly become Christians. And in this way our reason opens, all Christ’s wisdom opens as do all the riches of truth” (Benedict XVI, General Audience, September 3, 2008).
Conversing with Christ: Lord, I am moved that you wanted me to know something of the heaven you have prepared for each of us. Thoughts of heaven can be a balm to suffering souls, and a strong antidote to the tedium of the everyday. Thank you for preparing a place for me (John 14:1-3). Help me to be worthy one day of joining you there.
Resolution: Lord, today by your grace I will write my own short description of heaven as a prayer of gratitude.
For Further Reflection: Saints’ descriptions of heaven:
St. Augustine: “There, good will shall be so ordered in us that we shall have no other desire than to remain there eternally.”
St. Anselm of Canterbury: “No one will have any other desire in heaven than what God wills; and the desire of one will be the desire of all; and the desire of all and of each one will also be the desire of God.”
St. Jean Vianney: “O my dear parishioners, let us endeavor to get to heaven! There we shall see God. How happy we shall feel! If the parish is converted we shall go there in procession with the parish priest at the head…We must get to heaven!”
St. Thomas More: “Earth hath no sorrow that heaven cannot heal.”
St. Therese of Lisieux: “Our Lord does not come down from heaven every day to lie in a golden ciborium. He comes to find another heaven which is infinitely dearer to him—the heaven of our souls, created in his image, the living temples of the adorable Trinity.”
Written by Maribeth Harper.