Kennedy's 'Postcards from
Making heaven wait?
Jonal entry 906 | Monday, August 22, 2005
Friday's Jonal elicited a thoughtful but, I think, baiting, response from one reader:
By "baiting" I mean that I think the writer knew full well my answeror at least my philosophical stanceto his or her questions. The same writer recently advocated the quick dispatching of Terri Schiavo in response to my series of reflections on that case, where I made my position on life questions rather clear. He is rearguing her* case perhaps to trip me up, or just to get another long-disagreed-upon issue to the boiling point again. I'm declining to take that bait, but I will answer the questions as though I take them as innocent and sincere probings.
"Heaven" waits for no man or woman, no angel, principality, or power. When it's timing is full, there is no delaying it. But this still leaves hanging the questions all summarized in "why put so much effort and cash layout into delaying the inevitable?" The answer is three simple words: Christians are prolife. Godfearing people have always been prolife. Murder was the first unretractable sin in recorded history, recorded specifically in Gensis 4:3-12:
Though Cain couldn't retract the evil he had done, another more universal sin that besets all of us is retractable. We can repent of it and make it go away. Sometimes this requires what the Gospel refers to as "violence"; that is, we have to use brute force to make it go away, but we can be healed of the sin that God identified in Cain as his "fallen countenance." Or the fallen countenance was the external sign of the inward sin, which was ingratitude. There's nothing more universal in the human condition than ingratitude, and most ingratitude, even those instances of it we show to our spouses, our parents, children, neighbors, and the strangers who hold the door for us or at least withhold the animosity we often deserve, is in fact ingratitude toward God. Cain was ingrateful for God's mercy and chose jealousy instead, and then acted out his jealousy by means of murdering the brother he was jealous of.
Anyone who grumbles about how miserable life is is ungrateful to God, the creator of life and the sustainer of everyone's life. To thumb one's nose at the greatest gift we've ever received, is the height of arrogance, it's blasphemy. But I daresay we all do it, every day. I know I do, when, for example, I have a "miss" in traffic that's so close that it scares me, my normal reaction is anger toward the other driver, the other car, myself, everyone...and especially anger toward God. Because when I should have been grateful for being spared yet again, I've been anything but.
The most wonderful aspect of the greatest gift, our lives, is that we don't know their parameters. We expect ups and downs, some illnesses, setbacks, but most lives also have some recoveries and happy times after some crises. So we "expect" some of that, too. To take the attitude that heaven is so great we can't wait to get there, and not clean up our wounds and try to help them heal rather letting them fester would be the height of ingratitude toward God for sparing the rest of our bodies for similar wounds, and for giving us a chance to repent some more. Every saint confesses that his only regret is insufficient time to fully repent, and all saints I've ever read about, back to the first generations of the church, have availed themselves of the medical science of their times to help them heal and get back into the work that God has assigned them to do.
The most noble example I can think of for this, and one you'll all be aware of, is the late Pope John Paul II. He fought death heroically for several years, taking every measure possible to improve his quality of life and extend his time. After his last hospitalization, when it became obvious that his time was up, he graciously accepted it, but only after the world had seen his dedication to the message he had preached all his life: Christians are prolife!
(Some may think they're seeing some loose ends here. If so, please bring them back to our attention and we'll take them up later.)
Webmaster Jon Kennedy
*Here I'm intentionally disguising the writer's gender to throw any reader sleuths off track.