This road we travel is not the destination. Advent is a time to take stock of our trip.
Do not ignore this one fact, beloved,that with the Lord one day is like a thousand yearsand a thousand years like one day. – 2 Peter 3:8
What will heaven be like?
It is very tempting to conjure up images like cruise ships or all inclusive resorts. We want to believe that heaven will satisfy our every desire, and here and now most of our desires are driven by our bodily, even carnal appetites. We want to eat our fill. We want to drink to delight. We want to laugh and play games. We want to rejoice and dance. All of this and more we want without any sorrow, without any suffering, without any pain.
The Biblical View
In heaven there will be no pain. The Book of Revelation promises, “He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there shall be no more death or mourning, wailing or pain” (Rev. 21:4). Not only is this the desire of our hearts, but this is the promise God fulfills: eternal life with him.
Jesus likens heaven to a place of feasting in his teaching in the New Testament. In one parable he compares heaven to a great banquet prepared by a master, who sends out his servant to bring in invited guests (Luke 14:16). In another place Jesus says, “The kingdom of heaven is like a king who prepared a wedding banquet for his son” (Matt. 22:2). Finally, the Book of Revelation describes the heavenly Jerusalem as the “wedding supper of the lamb” (Rev. 19:9).
The Satisfaction of Desire
One obstacle to thinking seriously about heaven is that the satisfaction of our earthly senses is a difficult thing to talk about; it’s tough to conceptualize. On this side of eternity our experience of life is filled with want and limitation. Each of us can think of moments when we have had to go without. Even more striking is the great suffering of many who lack even basic resources every day. To believe that there will be a time and place where there will be no want can be hard, based on what we see here and now.
Another difficulty is that our own experience of pleasure leaves us wanting. We can’t get enough. Whether it’s drink or food or sex or watches or cars or money or power… it’s so easy to spend life chasing these things. Speaking to our constant desire for more, St. Thomas Aquinas says, “It is impossible for any created good to constitute man’s happiness. For happiness is the perfect good, which lulls the appetite altogether.”
Whatever it is that we want, whether it is a desire of heart in the will or the search for truth in the mind, the deepest longings of the human person can only find their fulfillment in God. God is the universal good of our will and the universal truth sought by our minds. Centuries before St. Thomas, St. Augustine put it this way, “You have made us for yourself, and our hearts are restless, until they can find rest in you.“
Living for Heaven in Advent
This Advent season, a season of longing and waiting, speaks to the heart of Christian life. We are wayfarers, voyagers, travelers. This earth is not our home. On this journey we experience countless sorrows and discomforts. These are symptoms of the restless heart. If we are struggling with a sexual sin, falling prey to regular temptation, frustrated about the darkness that lurks in our hearts—we must not despair!
This road we travel is not the destination. Leon Bloy—the great French Catholic thinker—sheds light on the mystery of these sufferings saying, “There are places in the heart that do not yet exist; suffering has to enter in for them to come to be.” We can have our hearts expanded, our loves tested and purified, friendships forged, and faith renewed when we see our pains as part of our journey.
We can have our hearts expanded, our loves tested and purified, friendships forged, and faith renewed when we see our pains as part of our journey.
The work of Advent is to take stock of our trip and calibrate our hearts. We make sure that we are set about on the right path. Are we carrying unnecessary burdens? Do we seek the nourishment and rest that travellers need? Are we following the Lord’s voice or another?
With the Lord One Day is Like a Thousand Years
Christian, you were made for glory! The festival of heaven is the delight of the omnipotent, infinite merciful God!
In heaven the hidden sorrows of our hearts will be revealed. The struggles of wearied travel and long journey will be transformed. In heaven Christ bears the wounds of his cross, yet they are glorious. The sufferings of our lives too, will someday be transformed by him.
In the life to come, we will never weary, even of the delights that appear before us. We will never tire of the feast. St. Paul assures us, “What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man conceived, what God has prepared for those who love him” (1 Cor 2:9).
The celebration of the wisdom and love of God will capture our hearts, and they will find rest. We will live forever with God. The days will not pass. There will be no night. Timeless, we will shine with him.
Live not for the delights of the journey. Guard your heart for heaven. Let this Advent be a reminder of the good things to come.