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    Fr. Joseph Jenkins

  • The blog header depicts an important and yet mis-understood New Testament scene, Jesus flogging the money-changers out of the temple. I selected it because the faith that gives us consolation can also make us very uncomfortable. Both Divine Mercy and Divine Justice meet in Jesus. Priests are ministers of reconciliation, but never at the cost of truth. In or out of season, we must be courageous in preaching and living out the Gospel of Life. The title of my blog is a play on words, not Flogger Priest but Blogger Priest.

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The Ranks of Heaven

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While discussing the nature of heaven, a view was put forward that seemed eerily similar to the utopian goal of communism.  It was suggested that the kingdom was a classless society where everyone was equal in terms of standing and in reference to spiritual gifts.  This was claimed as necessary to avoid conflict and competition.  It was even argued that God, or at least the incarnate Christ, would be in the mix as just one of the crowd.  I was aghast at the notion, and argued that Jesus is a divine person of the Blessed Trinity.  Our posture in heaven is to adore or worship God.  Given that there is a hierarchy of angels and multiple choirs, why would we think that mankind would be reduced to one rank and a single chorus?

My own views were parroted back to me.  As a believer, it is my conviction that the dignity of persons and the sanctity of life are “incommensurate” goods.  If such be the case in this world, then how could I argue a loss of value in the world to come?  Attempting a response, I asserted that everyone is loved by God as precious and irreplaceable— that is true.  But that does not speak to our personal histories, the depth of our faith and convictions and the capacity we have for grace and holiness.  It is apparent that some have a greater capacity to sacrifice and to love than others.  There are certain people who live such exemplary lives of witness that they are canonized as saints by the Church.  They become our heroes who demonstrate how many callings and lives can follow in the one way of Christ.  Some have walked with the Lord their entire lives.  Others have borne great crosses.  Still some come back to the Lord late in life.  They may all win heaven, but I would not suspect that we would suddenly become all the same.  While I certainly think the existence of heaven and hell is an expression of divine mercy and justice; I do not think it necessitates an egalitarian equality in our status before God.

Pride can have us wrongly demand a choice place.  I suspect this type of mentality might awkwardly land us in hell.  Pride can also demand that no one else have a better or more desirable place.  This way of thinking would probably (at least) land us in purgatory.  I do not believe the souls of the just are concerned about such matters.  They are just happy to have a room in the house of God.  One may have the basement and another, a penthouse; the saints are not afflicted with jealousy.  Our posture or place will reflect the truth and that will be enough for us.  The tremendous joy of being in God’s presence will make any sentiments of loss impossible.

I suspect our proximity to God will be dynamic and always moving forward.  Just as we must be disposed or open to the graces of God in this world; the souls of heaven will abide with God in direct proportion to their ability to know and to love and to open themselves to the divine mystery.  Analogies fall short.  This is more than being in an actual room of a house.  We will know a profound union with God.  We will live within the Trinity itself.  Some will find themselves in the periphery of this mystery and others will be closer to the heart.  We are made for God.  We are not interchangeable, and as distinct persons, each of us will have our own song in the divine harmony of praise.

 

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