Homily for the 32nd Sunday in Ordinary Time - Year C
(Lk 20, 27-38)
By Fr. Joseph Nguyen, O.P.
When the missionaries arrived in Africa they began preaching the Good News to native peoples, whose only way of getting food was hunting. The biggest difficulty for the missionaries was how to get these native peoples to change their mentality with regard to heaven and the life after death. One day, as the missionaries were talking about the happiness of heaven, the tribal chief asked them: “In heaven, are we allowed to go hunting?” When the missionaries told him that there is no hunting in heaven, the tribal chief showed great disappointment and said: “In that case, I don’t like go to heaven anymore!” He left and many others followed him.
In speaking of the resurrection and of the life after death, the Sadduccees more or less had the same mentality. They thought that in heaven men and women continue to marry one another, to raise children and to take care of their families, just as they had done here on earth. Of course, this was a great mistake. We do not know exactly how heaven will be like, but surely in heaven everything is totally different and no comparison is possible. So, how do people live in heaven? Jesus said: “They are like the angels.”
And since the angels are spiritual, they do not have bodies like ours : they do not need clothes, fashion, make-ups, shoes; they don’t have to eat or to drink because they are never hungry or thirsty; they don’t need cars or motocycles or any means of transportation, because for them there is no distance; they don’t need telephone or mobile phone because they can communicate and get contact with others simply by looking into God.
They don’t even need any kind of dwelling like houses or luxury apartments, because climate and weather conditions do not affect them at all; they are immune from cold and heat, from dryness and humidity, from sun and rain. They don’t need hospitals and medicine, because they never get sick. There will be no more storms, hurricanes, flood; no more earthquakes, tsunamies or volcanoes. There is nothing to fear, nothing to worry about : no war, no fight, no quarrels, no terrorist attacks, no famines, no pest, no disasters of any kind.
In short, in heaven we are then freed from the law of biology and the law of physics. We longer depend on food and drink, clothes and houses. We will have no more need for medicine, doctors and hospitals. We no longer depend on weight and size, shape and dimension. No women will be worrried about overweight, or underweight, about dieting or reducing. And the happiest thing is, as Christ reassures us : “We will no longer die.” Therefore, everything that is now important and necessary for us here on earth will not be so anymore.
Life on earth is like a journey. Just like on a trip, travellers have to bring along a lot of things they may need on the way: means of transportation, suitcases or handbags, umbrella, raincoat, food, water, and so forth. But when they are back home, those things they bring along during the trip will cease to serve their purpose. We don’t wear raincoat or hold umbrella when we are inside our house. We don’t need cars to go around from one room to another.
The same happens when we get to heaven. Everything we need for our material life here in this world also ceases to serve their purpose. We can forget about them altogether. What we do need in heaven is to love God and to love others and enjoy the happiness of being loved by God and by others, and be assured that this happiness will last forever.
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