Like many others, as a child I had these very lofty ideas of what “heaven” meant. For me, it was flying through the clouds with God! I remember asking my mum whether or not we’d need to go to church in heaven, and when she said no, I got even more excited about eventually getting there!
However, in our gospel today, Jesus gives us a very simple explanation of what heaven is: “Eternal life is this: to know you, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.” That’s it. To know God is to have “eternal life.” If 8-year-old me had heard this, he’d be disappointed at not being able to fly!
This begs the question, though, what does it mean to know God? Do not each one of us already know God in some way, shape or form?
This points to a comforting, and yet also challenging, reality. We are able to experience “Eternal life” or “heaven” here and now. Comforting because our knowledge of God gives us confidence that no matter what life throws at us, we know God walks with us through it all. Challenging because our experience of “heaven,” our knowing God, necessitates a reaching out to those who suffer, just as God himself does in the person of Jesus, and his subsequent mission on earth.
Luke Bulley CP is a Passionist priest, he lives at St.Gabriel Retreat, Endeavour Hills.