There IS a Destination
Be dressed for action and have your lamps lit …. Blessed are those slaves whom the master finds alert when he comes; truly I tell you, he will fasten his belt and have them sit down to eat, and he will come and serve them. (Lk 12:35,37)
We like to know where we are going in life, and better still we like to be there already. When we were younger and would break up long car journeys by asking our parents ‘Are we nearly there yet?’, two lessons were being learnt: that a journey should have a destination, and that journeys often require patience!
Do people today see life as a journey? There is without doubt a recognition of the progression through stages of life, from childhood to adult maturity to old age, and each stage is marked with its own significant moments. But if we asked the average person in the streets ‘what is life a journey towards?’, I wonder what sort of answers we would get. One of the great temptations of modern life is to focus solely on the here and now, and never ponder on the matter of life after death.
Against this a Christian has to object that if we see our world just like that, we will never understand ourselves, and life will come to seem incomplete and without meaning. We must remind ourselves of the old truth that we were never made for this life alone, but in the words of the Penny Catechism ‘God made me to know him, love him and serve him in this world, and to be happy with him forever in the next.’ We could spend a lifetime considering the depths contained within those simple words, but the Church counsels us to see life as a pilgrimage: a journey back to the Father’s house, back to the arms of the Father who lovingly made us. There are different ‘stations’ to progress through on this pilgrimage, there will be times when we are working and straining hard, and there will be times when are rested and renewed in the Lord’s presence in Word and Sacrament.
A journey with a destination is never futile; the end-point gives meaning to the most tiring walk. So likewise Heaven gives meaning to earthly life, and far from taking our attention away from the here-and-now, it should make everything in this passing life infinitely precious and worth saving.
No-one can really know what Heaven will be ‘like’: our present mode of existence will be transformed utterly, and one of the best images remains the contrast of shadows and true light. The Book of Revelations pulls back the veil ever so slightly: ‘‘See, the home of God is among mortals. He will dwell with them; they will be his peoples, and God himself will be with them; he will wipe every tear from their eyes. Death will be no more.” (Rev 21:3-4) It is beyond the power of the mind to fully comprehend, so we must just get on with the pilgrimage. We make it alongside all our friends in faith, and never on our own. Are we nearly there yet? Nearly, but keep walking!