Heaven Here & Now

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Fifth Sunday of Easter

Sometimes I might wonder what heaven would look like.

I imagine I would have every good thing I know in this world, like chocolate and puppies and endless episodes of “Dancing with the Stars.” Oh, I’m sorry, that was my friend Julie’s vision of heaven, not mine.

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But I suppose heaven has got to be a big enough place for everything anyone imagines heaven would be like. So in heaven you can have all the Oreos you want, all the Apple electronics and software you crave, all the Beethoven and Mozart, all the Rihanna and Jay-Z, all the Taylor Swift and Justin Bieber your little heart desires.

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I might need an eternal supply of earplugs to make that work, or perhaps the ability to tune it all out. That would be nice.

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We read in the book of Revelation that in the new heaven, God will dwell in the midst of his people. This book was written in a time of great turmoil and persecution, so the writer was trying to encourage his readers not to lose hope.

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The glorious vision he writes about would wash away all fear and darkness from their hearts. God will also wipe away every tear from their eyes, and there shall be no more death or mourning, wailing or pain. I know I would love that. Any place that promises no wailing or pain is heaven in my book.

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But Jesus has told us before that the kingdom of heaven is already among us. It is not in some future time nor some place far, far away. It is here and now. We are living in it.

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Yes, it doesn’t look much like heaven sometimes. There are still things that do not make us think of heaven, like suffering and injustice, hunger and war. There are still people who steal, cheat, and lie; people who hurt others; people who do not care about their neighbors.

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But Jesus also tells us that the kingdom of heaven needs our help to become a reality. So while we long to be in heaven someday, we also have to help build heaven right here and now.

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God continues to do his part to make heaven a reality here and now through the efforts and work of good people, helping the blind to see again, the deaf to hear again, the lame to walk again. He continues to heal the sick, and feed the hungry; to free those in prison, and to raise the dead. And he tells us we can help to make heaven a reality when we love one another.

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It seems like an easy thing to do, that we love one another. But sometimes, we tend to forget that loving one another is something we have to do all the time, not just when we feel like it, not just on special days like today.

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It’s easy to be cheerful, kind and forgiving when you’re dressed like an angel and everybody is looking at you.

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It’s easy to love everybody when people give you presents, and you know there’s a party waiting for you at home.

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But if we want to help make heaven a reality here and now, we have to seriously consider Jesus’ new commandment: “Love one another. And this is how all will know you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

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We will meet people today who will not be easy to love; love them anyway.

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We will meet people who will not be easy to be kind to; be kind to them anyway.

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We will meet people who will not be easy to forgive; forgive them anyway.

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So when we do this, everyone will know we belong to Jesus. And we will be in heaven right here, right now.

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Rolo B. Castillo © 2013