Earlier this week our son, Fr. Tom, sent this picture of the Alps while he was on a flight from Rome to Hong Kong. He included a little caption about pondering what heaven might be like.
When I saw it I suddenly remembered a conversation I recorded over ten years ago. I found it recently when I was going through some of those endless stacks of paper that seem to be my particular form of hoarding.
Grandson, Alex, age six ( after a discussion on the way home from school with his dad about what was for dinner):
“Grandma is cooking? Oh, Grandma cooks like an angel. Grandma cooks like heaven!”
His brother, Eddie, a year younger, pipes in:
“Yeah, Grandma cooks like a cafeteria!”
Alex is quick to correct him in true big brother fashion and with perfect logic:
“No, Eddie. The best thing in the world is heaven. If Grandma is the best cook in the world then Grandma cooks like heaven.”
Eddie, accepting of correction and bowing to logic says:
“Yeah, Alex, that’s right!”
Part of me is so honored to have reached this pinnacle of culinary honor, even by the judgement of a couple of young boys. I also smile at their innocence and commend Alex on his knowledge of things eternal and use of reason to get his point across.
Mainly, though, I am in awe of the intellect and innocence of young children. Heaven is “the best thing in the world” as it is the place where God dwells and for us to be there means living in His presence for days without end. How the little ones can often grasp what us older folks cannot see. Alex will graduate from high school in a few days, with Eddie a little behind him. Oh how the days do pass so swiftly this side of eternity!
Tim walks with his nephews at a park in Alabama
We contemplate heaven in our thoughts today as we glimpse the apostles and Mary looking up into the sky as Christ disappears from view. We yearn as they yearn for an end to our trials and that perfect happiness that means living in the presence of Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
In Divine Intimacy, Fr. Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalen helps us to understand:
The central idea in the liturgy today is the raising of our hearts toward heaven, so that we may begin to dwell in spirit where Jesus has gone before us. “Christ’s Ascension”, says St. Leo, “is our own ascension; our body has the hope of one day being where its glorious head has preceded it”. In fact, Our lord has already said in His discourse after the Last Supper, ” I go to prepare a place for you. And if I shall go and prepare a place for you, I will come and take you to Myself; that where I am you also may be”. The Ascension is, then, a feast of joyful hope, a sweet foretaste of heaven. By going before us, Jesus our Head has given us the right to follow Him there someday and we can even say with St. Leo, ” In the person of Christ, we have penetrated the heights of heaven”.
There is a lovely echo in the prayer Liturgy of the Hours today;
Father in heaven, our minds were prepared for the coming of your kingdom when you took Christ beyond our sight so that we might seek him in his glory. May we follow where he has led and find our hope in his glory, for he is Lord for ever.