The Problem of Heaven
Fr. Patrick J. McHugh
There is one word we can never use of the Lord. We can never say that the Lord has
problems, not even in His dealing with you and me. If it were asked, "What is the
nearest the Lord can come to having a problem?" the answer might very well be,
"The Lord has a problem when He tells humans about heaven."
Suppose a person blind from birth were to ask you to describe the colors of flowers in
a garden how would you go about it? You would have a problem. Multiply that problem a
hundred times, a thousand times, multiply it infinitely and you have some suspicion of the
problem the Lord has. You are thinking, are you not, "Where is the problem? Heaven is
a state of perfect peace and happiness and love that will last forever. There it is, as
plain as ABC."
But it is not that simple at all. Heaven, we say, is "a state of perfect
peace." That seems easy to understand until we stop to realize that what we call
"peace" turns out to be a state where we have less turmoil, less anxiety, less
conflict then we usually do. We call this: "Peace" and we are thankful for it;
we rejoice in the little peace we have because we are catching a glimpse of something
glorious and unspeakably good that lies beyond the stars that the Church prays for in
every Funeral Mass: "Eternal rest grant unto him, Oh Lord, and perpetual light shine
upon him. May he rest in peace."
We do not know what peace is because the peace we have is sullied with so much that is
opposite. We do not know what love is because love in this world is overshadowed by
aversion, by separation, by hate. We do not know what goodness is because the goodness we
know, even when it is real is contaminated with evil. We only have shadows, flickers,
sparks cast out from the Furnace of love with a capital L and Truth with a capital T and
Goodness with the capital G that is not something but Someone. The Lord's problem is how
He can tell humans who do not know, because in the nature of things they cannot know, what
the words love and goodness and truth and peace mean in themselves. Heaven will be where
we see and experience these words--these realities--to be exact: this reality--in their
pure state without any shadow or stain.
From In Season, Out of Season: meditations on the Sunday Gospels and Second Readings,
liturgical cycle C, fifth Sunday of Easter, second reading (Rev. 21: 1-5).
Electronic text (c) Copyright EWTN 1997. All rights reserved.