Sometimes it is hard to remember that our goal here is not to try to find heaven here, but to learn and display the character of heaven here—no matter what we may face in our world. Things are not going to be fair, much less always easy; the crosses are large especially now on this side of glory—we certainly can see that with all the myriad crises in our homes, communities, country and world. Sometimes we simply have to hold on to the truth that heaven is in our future and God will not forget our works of service when we spend much of our lives in pain and turmoil. This is God’s mercy for us. We have to hold on and trust that the problems we face here will melt away when the Lord dries every tear from our eyes and welcomes us to the home he has prepared for us. Heaven awaits us, and its glory is beyond our abilities to comprehend, or describe. But that doesn’t mean that we get to stand by, to wait for later and not act in the here and now.
Being Disciples of Jesus is never easy. We are called every day, indeed in every moment, to struggle against our prejudices, our knee-jerk, emotional responses, our sinful reactions and actions in any and all situations—especially those that are fraught with our own self-interests. The world is a fallen and broken place; and many people here do have very heavy burdens to carry. You know them: the friend with cancer or the virus, the bullied teen, the over-worked single parent, the downsized and jobless husband, the lonely old and the loveless young. In this place (as Pope Francis teaches) we have the continuing injustice of our economic and medical system; racial prejudice; science ignorance and denial; the disappearance of basic respect.
The hymn quoted in St. Paul continues about us having the same attitude as Jesus: we must empty our own selves, and humbly serve others. “At the Name of Jesus—every knee will bend and every tongue confess that Jesus is Lord.” And He is the Lord—and the example we are called to demonstrate here on earth in all of our relationships—in our marriages, families, churches and communities. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if by just saying His name we could remind each other and ourselves about how we are called to be here? We should never ignore these anti-Jesus behaviors and attitudes in others, or especially in our own selves—and with loving and non-judgmental responses say the name of Jesus—reminding us all that at His name every knee should bend—and every mind should turn—and every heart (especially our own) should burn—with love! We are called as true Christians to practice kindness, mercy without judgement and to love in the face of hate, injustice, unkindness, selfishness, greed, fear, anger and sin.
For us as Disciples of Christ and Baptised believers, this kind of witnessing behavior should always be our goal, our model. This kind of loving and unselfish conduct among us is what creates healthy communities—something St. Paul wanted for the Philippians (and for us). God is found in His people. God’s (and our) work is always about our relationships: how we treat one another with respect and love.
What Would Jesus Do could be expanded to What Would Jesus Think and What Would Jesus Say…This truly is the character of heaven we are called to live in this world.
Keep singing in your hearts!
Just a note: I really miss singing the Gloria with you in our weekend masses. (I look forward to when we may do so, again!) So, for now, I am sharing a lovely sung setting of a Gloria from my son Elliott’s professional choir (on zoom for thier weekend service). Enjoy!
Dove Gloria: https://youtu.be/SdIfe9vERCA