Revelation 7:9-17 Psalm 34:1-10, 22 1 John 3:1-3 Matthew 5:1-12
May these words and our thoughts be acceptable to God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
There are a lot of answers about life, and life after life, in our Readings today. We get a snapshot of Heaven. Here, in this life, we pay homage to God, we worship God, but we do it somewhat blind. Here in Creation we cannot see the scope of God’s power. We can’t see the wood for the trees. We are too close to His Creation to appreciate God’s majesty.
An analogy; we think that Europe, Asia, Africa and Australia are a long way off, they are. They are great journeys any way you go, journeys that need planning and resources to accomplish. When we see a photograph of Earth from space, it’s not so big, but if we look over our astronaut’s shoulder we are looking into infinity and Earth itself, this huge Earth, becomes less than a pin prick – we are looking into infinity. Infinity is something that we have great difficulty grasping. Infinity has no end and the scale of it is beyond our comprehension. We like to think of things as being contained within something. There is no containment of the universe. There just is no end. The universe, like us, was created in God’s image, it is not contained, God is not contained. God just is. God said “I AM WHO I AM” (Exodus 3:14) there is no other adequate way to describe God.
When we overlay the endlessness of the universe on our concept of God we start to get the picture. A monk in the Middle Ages put it this way, he said “If you can think of something beyond what you can think of, then that is God”. A beautiful mind bending definition and one perhaps that we can never really come to grips with. God is, and is everywhere, contains everything, and knows everything, and has no limits. That is very difficult to conceive of and that is part of the reason God does not reveal Himself that way but reveals Himself in human form in the Person of Jesus Christ of Nazareth. God has to come down to our level now, but when we ascend to His level we may come to understand.
So the picture of Heaven is a place of unbounded reality. A place where we can find a place along with billions of others and as we cannot be alone in the universe I can foresee us meeting up with beings, with spirits, spiritual beings, from other worlds who have made their final journey too. The wonders that await are overwhelming. And St. John was overwhelmed by the vision he describes in Revelation.
Now just because we are many doesn’t mean that we are unknown, that is, lost in anonymity the way we are with others in a crowd; God has good facial recognition skills. We are children of God and as we heard several times over the last few weeks He knows us by name, we after all are children of God. If we are known by name we will also be known for what we do.
And Jesus tells us how we get to be in the crowd of witnesses around the Throne of God. He did it in what we know as the Sermon on the Mount, part of which we read today. Jesus says, first of all know that you are not spiritually perfect or complete, you never will be, but knowing that you lack is enough to gain Heaven. Living with a self-assured pompous know-it-all for an eternity would not be my idea of Heaven. Jesus knows that so He also says humility is the key. Then those who recognise not only their own spiritual poverty but realise that it may have steered them away from God, regret and mourn their deficiency. But you are not going to spend eternity moping or seeing others mope because God loves us as the parent loves the child, and will comfort us, making us worthy of a life in Heaven. Being gentle of spirit gets a lot in this world and in the next. It’s a good feeling to be with a person who lacks bombast and is ready to hear our story – we want to be heard, and we will be, in Heaven. Right around now we are starting to think about having a late breakfast or an early lunch – brunch in modern parlance. Putting it crudely we are seeking food. As a spiritual being we have a hunger for what is spiritual food. We have probably all committed at one time or another to reading the Bible or Praying regularly, whether or not we did is not so important, wanting to, hungering for spiritual food, is what’s important. As all things are possible with God your hunger will be satisfied. When you get into Heaven it will be because of God’s Mercy – call it God’s Grace. Now we all know we should give in kind. How can we live in bliss if we’ve got a chip on our shoulder ? We can’t, it just stays there and oddly gets bigger and bigger and becomes a log that we just can’t carry around. I know this will be a bit of a disappointment to many but there are no trucks in heaven. So there is nothing to haul or tow your log for you, no F-150s or Guts and Glory Rams. Darn ! So don’t get the log in the first place show mercy and forgive those who bug you. This is all leading to purity of heart, which leads to purity in living, which leads to Heaven – simple as that.
Not everyone sees it that way of course they need someone to help them resolve their problems and difficulties – that’s you. Who else ? It can get you into trouble but struggling for what is right has its own rewards, and heavenly rewards when you struggle in the cause of Christ.
The Saints we celebrate today the countless billions already in Heaven, mostly unknown to us, but known to God, followed the teaching of Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount. Not only do those teachings lead to Heaven they lead to an ideal life here. There is a great new technology in the works for cars, buses and trucks, it’s called V2V (Vehicle to Vehicle). It’s a technology that detects other vehicles, even around corners, and prevents collisions. It also safely turns red traffic lights to green and vice versa so that traffic will be free flowing and accident free. That’s what the Sermon on the Mount can do in our lives if we adopt it as our V2V Bible sanctioned operating system. Rejoice and be glad therefore Heaven is not that far away, it’s actually closer than Europe, Asia, Africa and Australia. It’s within your grasp. Amen.