That’s the question I hear in today’s Gospel (Luke 20:27-38), ‘what’s it like?” Heaven that is, what is heaven like?
Punch is a well-known magazine from England. My grand-father kept bound copies of it in his library and I enjoyed reading them, and not for the articles but for the many clever cartoons featured in the publication.
A particular favorite of mine was a drawing of a sky with various groups of cartoonish looking people, festooned with white robes and wings, some playing harp and all on fluffy white clouds. In the foreground there was a couple of these angel-like characters and one was saying to the other, “did you ever think hell would be like this?”
I might even have second thoughts about making it to heaven if it was going to be like one long, eternal church service.
The way Jesus responds to the Sadducees is wonderful. He is essentially saying that no matter what you think heaven is like – you’re wrong. The context of the question is contained within a theological debate about the resurrection and the debate reveals a similar attitude, that whatever we think about the resurrection – we’re wrong.
Normally, we think it’s a failure to be wrong, but when we come to things like heaven and the resurrection it is good to be wrong. Jesus, by saying that those who belong in heaven do not marry, he is simply saying that earthly concerns don’t apply there. Heaven and the resurrection are beyond our greatest ability to imagine. And that’s a good thing; heaven and the resurrection are far better than we could ask or imagine.
Archbishop Fulton Sheen said, “I am certain that there will be three surprises in heaven. First of all, I will see some people there whom I never expected to see. Second, there will be a number whom I expect to be there who will not be there. And, even relying on His mercy, the biggest surprise of all may be that I will be there.”