The Heavenly Jerusalem
We started this month of November with the feast of All Saints. In fact, the saints’ lives clearly tell you and me that, if we ardently believe in Jesus and do his work, there is the sure hope for us of eternal life with Him in Heaven.
Speaking about the All Saints and All Souls feast days, Pope Francis said that both these days are “days of hope”. This is because “hope is like a bit of leaven that enlarges your soul. There are difficult moments in life, but with hope you go forward and keep your eyes on what awaits us. Today is a day of hope; our brothers and sisters are in the presence of God.”
The Bible never disappoints our common existential expectations. It is enough to look at the following powerful vision, taken from the book of Revelation: “After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no man could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, ‘Salvation belongs to our God who sits upon the throne, and to the Lamb!’ And all the angels stood round the throne and round the elders and the four living creatures, and they fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, saying, ‘Amen! Blessing and glory and wis- dom and thanksgiving and honour and power and might be to our God forever and ever! Amen.’
Then one of the elders addressed me, saying, ‘Who are these, clothed in white robes, and whence have they come?’ I said to him, ‘Sir, you know.’ And he said to me, ‘These are they who have come out of the great tribulation; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. Therefore are they before the throne of God, and serve him day and night within his temple; and he who sits upon the throne will shelter them with his presence. They shall hunger no more, neither thirst anymore; the sun shall not strike them, nor any scorching heat. For the Lamb in the midst of the throne will be their shepherd, and he will guide them to springs of living water; and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes’” (Rev 7:9-17).
For those who have eyes to see and ears to hear such a reading gives them joy, comfort and courage. Who of us does not have to withstand life’s great tribulations and its scorching heat? Who of us has not wept flood of tears because she and he has acted rightly and paid the price of facing the bitterest of oppositions? Was this not the experience of the Christians who are, even today, greatly persecuted due to their faith? Yet, having said so, this Bible passage from the Book of Revelation instils constant encouragement and hope. Not only, of course, to John’s audience, but also to you and me who toil and face life challenges on a daily basis.
Personally speaking, I am greatly encouraged by what St Faustina writes in her Diary regarding the Heavenly Jerusalem: “Today I was in heaven in spirit, and I saw its inconceivable beauties and the happiness that awaits us after death. I saw how all creatures give ceaseless praise and glory to God. I saw how great is happiness in God, which spreads to all creatures, making them happy; and then all the glory and praise which springs from this happiness returns to its source. They enter into the depths of God, contemplating the inner life of God, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, whom they will never comprehend or fathom. This source of happiness is unchanging in its essence, but is always new, gushing forth happiness for all creatures. Now I understand Saint Paul, who said, ‘Eye has not seen, nor has ear heard, or has it entered into the heart of man what God has prepared, for those who love him’.” ( Diary 777). Fr Mario Attard OFM Cap