Friday, July 13, 2007

What Does the 'Kingdom of Heaven' Look Like?

We've all grown up with pictures of Heaven in our heads; white robes, floppy little wings, Clarence, fluffy clouds, a harp maybe, Warren Beatty in a running suit, big shiny gates attached to.... more fluffy clouds?

One of the daily Gospel's this week was from Matthew 10. Jesus is sending out the 12 Apostles (like the 12 tribes of a New Israel) and He tells them to pass this on: "As you go, make this proclamation: 'The Kingdom of heaven is at hand.'"

Great! It is? Where would that be? As we look around, heaven is not always clearly seen. At least, not the vision of heaven that perhaps we thought heaven was...


I'm half way through Pope Benedict's new book (it's fantastic). With nearly every page I find myself pausing and going "whoa... I never thought of that before." The Pope weaves together both Old and New Testaments like a fisherman weaving his net, and according to one article I read, he's catching some new readers. Ones who never saw this quiet scholar with the heart of a father coming. A section I recently read talks all about what this "Kingdom of God" (aka Heaven) really looks like.

Here's what it's not:

- It's not a time shrouded in the future when we imagine all the people, living life in peace... woohoo aahaahaah... (little Lennon there)

- It's not a castle in the clouds, where nobody shouts or talks too loud.... although there is a lady all in white, who holds us and sings a lullaby ;) .... (Les Mis, anyone?)

- It's not even, primarily, a place where Republicans and Democrats, liberals and conservatives, Catholics, Protestants, Jews and Muslims finally accept each other and we all just get along..... (...Rodney King?)

- and finally, the Kingdom of Heaven is not a palace with pillars, banners, and trumpets with the whole gaggle of humanity toting togas and sort of fanning God as He sits on a golden throne. (He likes to stoop down low and wash our feet, remember?)

The Pope says that the Kingdom of Heaven is.... a person. It's Jesus.

St. Edith Stein, that pillar of intellect and sanctity who was born Jewish, then became an atheist, then found Jesus, became a nun and was later killed in Auschwitz (what an amazing roller coaster ride that was!); she knew this truth about the Kingdom, that it's a person not a palace.

She said "In the heart of Jesus, which was pierced, the kingdom of heaven and the land of earth are bound together. Here is for us the source of life."

Our longing for love finds its home in a Sacred Heart, not gilded halls. This Kingdom has been misrepresented. I don't want golden streets as much as I want to kneel at His feet. Can I get a witness?

So let's hear this word of Jesus today as a word for us to come closer to Him, the One Whose love drove Him to take on a body for us. And a heartbeat that will never ever stop beating for us. Think about that one for a minute. Whoa.

"The kingdom of heaven is at hand" means here I am! Come and see!

Amen! Thy Kingdom come!
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