I remember hearing the Gospel passage from today, Luke 20:27-38, as a blissful newlywed and not liking it one bit.
Like, if we were at dinner, I would have had to say, “Look, Jesus, I just can’t talk about this with you, perhaps we could change the subject?” Eighteen years later, as a happily married woman . . . it’s still not my favorite. But I think I have come to terms with the fact that my dislike is a function of my temporal lack of understanding, rather than a problem with Jesus’ words or God’s eternal plan for mankind.
I love my husband, and I also like him. I particularly appreciate the primacy of our relationship, that we are cleaved to one another, that I “outrank” the other people in his life. If I were to die first, and he were to remarry, wouldn’t I still want that prime relationship with him in Heaven? Wouldn’t I want him to love me more than his second wife, or his seventh?
Earthly, fallen, attached me would want that. But as I’ve come to understand it, a me who would have made it to Heaven, who would be purified of selfishness and attachments . . . would not.
I would have a perfect, generous love for my husband and for any number of his subsequent wives. Our relationships in Heaven will be of God’s love and in God’s love and before the face of God Himself. They will be perfect and not subject to jealousy.
It’s just one more reason to strive for Heaven. Heaven isn’t just some astral plane. It’s real, and perfect in all ways, including community. All of those difficult relationships, all our misunderstandings of and being misunderstood by friends and family members, the way we make less-than-charitable assumptions of why they say or do things, none of that exists in Heaven. We will have a perfect love for God and a perfect love for everyone around us.
Now all we need to do is get ourselves to Heaven and bring our loved ones with us. Now all we need to do is strive for Heaven, trust in God’s mercy, and encourage and pray for our loved ones to do the same.
The Catholic encyclopedia entry on Heaven provides remarkable insights.
Kendra Tierney is a forty-three-year-old mother of ten and wife of one living in and working on a big old fixer-upper house in Los Angeles. She's a homeschooler and a regular schooler and is relishing the new freedom from carpooling that's come with a sixteen-year-old in the house. Her new book, The Catholic All Year Compendium, Liturgical Living for Real Life, is here. You can find her first book, A Little Book About Confession, here, her blog here, and her word art here. She is a contributing author to our Works of Mercy Study: Misericordia.