Father Cantalamessa on Our True Heaven
Pontifical Household Preacher on This Sunday's Gospel
ROME, MAY 27, 2006 (Zenit) - Here is a translation of a commentary by Capuchin Father Raniero Cantalamessa, preacher to the Pontifical Household, on this Sunday's Gospel reading on the solemnity of the Ascension.
* * *
The Lord's Ascension
(Acts 1:1-11; Ephesians 1:17-23; Mark 16:15-20)
The solemnity of the Ascension of Jesus "to heaven" is an occasion to clarify once and for all our ideas on what we understand by "heaven." Among almost all peoples, heaven is identified with the dwelling of the divinity. The Bible also uses this spatial language. "Glory to God in the highest heaven and peace on earth to men."
With the advent of the scientific age, this religious meaning of the word "heaven" entered into crisis. For modern man, heaven is the space in which our planet moves and the whole solar system, and no more. We know the quip attributed to a Soviet astronaut, on his return from his trip through the cosmos: "I have traveled much through space and I haven't found God anywhere!"
So it is important that we try to clarify what we, Christians, understand when we say "Our Father, who art in heaven," or when we say that someone has "gone to heaven." On such things, the Bible adapts itself to popular speech: But it well knows and teaches that God "is in heaven, on earth and everywhere," that it is he who "has created the heavens," and if he has created them, he cannot be "closed" in them.
That God is "in the heavens" means that he "dwells in inaccessible light": that he is as far from us "as heaven rises over earth." In other words, that he is infinitely different from us. Heaven, in the religious sense, is more a state than a place. God is outside of space and time and so is his paradise.
In the light of what we have said, what does it mean to proclaim that Jesus "went up to heaven"? We find the answer in the Creed. "He went up to heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father." That Christ went up to heaven means that "he is seated at the right hand of the Father, that is, that also as man he has entered God's world, who has been constituted, as St. Paul says in the second reading, Lord and head of everything. Jesus went up to heaven, but without leaving the earth. He has only gone out of our visual world. He himself assures us: "Lo, I am with you always, to the close of the age" (Matthew 28:16-20).
The words of the angel -- "Galileans, why are your looking up to heaven?" -- therefore contain a warning, if not a veiled reproach. We must not stay looking up to heaven to discover where Christ is, but rather live awaiting his return, continuing his mission, taking his Gospel to the ends of the earth, improving the quality of life on earth.
As for us, "to go to heaven" or "to paradise" means to be "with Christ" (Philippians 1:20). "I am going to prepare a place for you ... so that where I am you may be also" (John 14:2-3).
"Heaven," understood as a place of rest, of eternal recompense of the good, was formed the moment Christ resurrected and went up to heaven. Our true heaven is the Risen Christ, whom we will go to meet and with him, be one "body" after our resurrection, and in a provisional and imperfect way immediately after death. Therefore, Jesus did not ascend to an already existing heaven that awaited him, but he went to form and inaugurate heaven for us.
There are those who ask: But what will we do "in heaven" with Christ for all eternity? Won't we be bored? I answer: Is it boring to be well and with excellent health? Ask those who are in love if they are bored being together. When one experiences a moment of very intense and pure joy, does not the desire arise that it last forever, that it never end? Down here such states do not last forever, because there is no object that can satisfy indefinitely.
It is different with God. Our minds will find the Truth in him and the Beauty that we will never cease to contemplate; and our hearts will find the Good that we will never tire to enjoy.
http://www.catholic.org CA, US
Catholic Online - Publisher, 661 869-1000
Cantalamessa, Gospel, Ascension, Heaven, Jesus
More Catholic PRWire
Showing 1 - 50 of 4,718
A Recession Antidote
Monaco & The Vatican: Monaco's Grace Kelly Exhibit to Rome--A Review of Monegasque-Holy See Diplomatic History
Dna. Maria St. Catherine Sharpe, t.o.s.m., T.O.SS.T.
A Royal Betrayal: Catholic Monaco Liberalizes Abortion
Dna. Maria St.Catherine De Grace Sharpe, t.o.s.m., T.O.SS.T.
Embrace every moment as sacred time
Mary Regina Morrell
Letting go is simple wisdom with divine potential
Mary Regina Morrell
Father Lombardi's Address on Catholic Media
Pope's Words to Pontifical Latin American College
Prelate: Genetics Needs a Conscience
State Aid for Catholic Schools: Help or Hindrance?
Scorsese Planning Movie on Japanese Martyrs
2 Nuns Kidnapped in Kenya Set Free
Holy See-Israel Negotiation Moves Forward
Franchising to Evangelize
Catholics Decry Anti-Christianity in Israel
Pope and Gordon Brown Meet About Development Aid
Pontiff Backs Latin America's Continental Mission
Cardinal Warns Against Anti-Catholic Education
Three words to a deeper faith
Relections for Lent 2009
Wisdom lies beyond the surface of life
Mary Regina Morrell
World Food Program Director on Lent
Pope's Lenten Message for 2009
Keeping a Lid on Permissiveness
Glimpse of Me
The 3 stages of life
Sex and the Married Woman
A Catholic Woman Returns to the Church
Modernity & Morality
Just a Minute
Catholic identity ... triumphant reemergence!
Edging God Out
Burying a St. Joseph Statue
George Bush Speaks on Papal Visit
Sometimes moving forward means moving the canoe
Mary Regina Morrell
Easter... A Way of Life
Papal initiative...peace and harmony!
Proclaim the mysteries of the Resurrection!
Jerusalem Patriarch's Easter Message
Good Friday Sermon of Father Cantalamessa
Papal Address at the End of the Way of the Cross
Cardinal Zen's Meditations for Via Crucis
Interview With Vatican Aide on Jewish-Catholic Relations
Pope Benedict XVI On the Easter Triduum
by Catholic Online
- 'Annabelle: Creation': Catholic Exorcist discusses power of hit ...
- 10 US Sailors missing after serious collision in Southeast Asian ...
- Jerry Lewis passes away at 91, was most proud of his family HD Video
- 'A Sign of the Times': A warning against 'expelling incoming ...
- St. Pius X: Saint of the Day for Monday, August 21, 2017
- Daily Readings for Monday, August 21, 2017
- Statue of St. Serra vandalized, are Christian crosses next?
- Daily Reading for Wednesday, August 23rd, 2017 HD
- Mother shares tragic photo of dying daughter as she pulled the plug on her life support HD
- Pope Francis asks for prayers following terror attacks in Spain HD
- Daily Reading for Tuesday, August 22nd, 2017 HD