Pope Francis: The Whole Journey of Life is a Journey of Preparation for Heaven

Many mansions I have a friend who told me once that her goal in life was to go to heaven.

I found this a little startling at the time. I had always thought of going to heaven as more of a by-product than a goal. My view was something like “you follow Jesus and trust Him and going to heaven is a by-product of that.”

I had never considered that heaven might be a goal that you aimed for all on its own. However, this particular friend is such a good Christian and so deeply wise in ways that I am still learning that I never questioned that there was a truth I didn’t understand in what she had said.

Time has passed and she and I are both older. As usual, I am slowly coming around to the spiritual truth that she saw all along. Heaven isn’t something you can earn with your good works. It certainly isn’t a territory that you can seize by force. It is the destination of a life lived in Christ.

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In a real sense, we are already citizens of heaven right now as we live out our time in this life. Following Jesus means walking the Way that leads straight through the Pearly Gates.

Pope Francis spoke of something similar to this in his morning homily yesterday. “The whole journey of life is a journey of preparation for heaven,” he said.

He was teaching about the Gospel passage which relates Jesus, telling the Disciples that He is going ahead of them to prepare a place for them in His Father’s house. Jesus was talking about his return to heaven and the Disciples ultimate destination of heaven.

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Pope Francis applied what Jesus said to the disciples to the lives of every Christian. “Prepare a place means preparing our ability to enjoy the chance, our chance to see, to feel, to understand the beauty of what lies ahead, of that homeland towards which we walk,” he said.

I think what my friend was trying to tell me is something very like what Pope Francis said yesterday. If we live our lives properly, they are a preparation, a kind of getting in shape, for the life to come. 

I’ve always thought that is the real purpose of purgatory. I don’t see it as punishment, but as cleaning up, refitting us so that we can be happy in heaven. There is no way most of us are ready for heaven when we leave this earth. We need a way station of some sort to get our heads right for heaven.

But there are those, like my friend, who are close to being good to go right now. They’ve lived their lives pointing heaven-ward by following Jesus from the inside of their beings out to their smallest actions.

I’m the last person to be an expert on this, considering the way I’ve lived my life and the way I keep on messing up even now. I’m far from thinking heaven-ward. But I am slowly beginning to start.

It may be just that I’m getting older. It may be that the world in which I live is becoming increasingly hostile to Christians. But heaven is becoming more real to me.

I am beginning to realize that heaven is home. 

From CNA:

.- “The whole journey of life is a journey of preparation” for heaven, Pope Francis said during his homily at Friday morning Mass.

The Pope reflected on the Gospel passage from St. John for today in which Jesus tells the disciples not to be afraid or troubled because he goes to prepare a place in the Father’s house for them.

“Prepare a place means preparing our ability to enjoy the chance, our chance, to see, to feel, to understand the beauty of what lies ahead, of that homeland towards which we walk,” he remarked.

Members of the Vatican Typography office attended the Eucharistic celebration on April 26, alongside the Vatican Labor Office and Vatican State Police inside St. Martha’s House chapel.

The Pope noted that Jesus talks “like a friend, even with the attitude of a pastor.”

“Let not your hearts be troubled, believe in God, believe also in me,” says Jesus, according to today’s Gospel.

“In my Father’s house there are many rooms, if it were not so would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you?” Christ asked the disciples.

The Pope called these “really beautiful words” and asked the congregation what they thought that “place” was like. (Read the rest here.) 

  • http://alifeinhishands.wordpress.com/ Regina

    My mother gave me two gifts when I was a young child. That Jesus was my friend, and that I could talk to him anytime that I wanted to – just like I would any friend. This doesn’t negate the Fear of the Lord nor great reverence for His Holiness. I have enjoyed now a life long relationship with the One who created me, on so many levels. I believe we are in for some very big surprises when we get to Heaven. He is beginning to reveal more and more what is in store, and it is humbling, sobering and exhilerating to know that ‘this life’ was not the only thing we were created for. I had an encounter some years ago which revealed a truth that not even so much is heaven our home, but our ‘home’ is in Him. His heart was our origin and returning to Him is going home. And I must truly admit, the older I get, the more inviting that reality becomes. And evidently, HOW we walk this walk out while we are here, will greatly affect things after we leave here. :) (And no, I’m not Catholic, which by now, you may have already figured out.) Loved the post!! :) Regina

  • Helen

    Revelations 19 6-7
    “…and His bride has made herself ready.”
    If we prepared with as much joy and dedication of attention and resources to make ourselves ready for Christ as we do to attract a mate, then think of the lives we would lead.

  • pagansister

    In all honesty I do not understand folks who live this life to “get to heaven”. Heaven or hell can be here on this planet—-and both are. Many folks live in a hell, and many live in a version of heaven—then there are those that live alternatively between both.

    • Ted Seeber

      The key is to get there permanently and stop disobeying.

      • pagansister

        Ted: The key is to get there permanently and stop disobeying”. Ted, is the way to get “there” (which I assume is heaven) is to die? Death is permanent. I hope to avoid it as long as possible. And who do we need to “stop disobeying?”

        • Rebecca Hamilton

          I’d like to interject a thought, if I might. Death is inevitable. It is part of life. You don’t have to “go” to death. It comes to you. Going to heaven is separate from that. In a real way, Christians are citizens of heaven now, in this life. Our citizenship in heaven has nothing to do with death, per se. It has everything to do with accepting the free gift of eternal life which Jesus offers us.

        • Theodore Seeber

          Like you said, Heaven is possible here on Earth. If you get there ahead of your physical death and refuse to leave, what does the death matter?

  • http://tljax.wordpress.com TL

    I’m looking forward to my graduation to Glory as though this was my pupal stage and the winged beauty of what I will become will make all this pale in comparison. Sometimes I wonder if life on earth isn’t itself the “tribulation” promised in Scripture. Jesus certainly promised tribulation to all of us (John 16:33) and not just those on whom the trumpets blow and bowls are poured. I do believe that, in being reborn, we are transformed into something that is constantly recreated, renewed, and when necessary revived, to keep us on track with our discipleship of The Way, so that we will fit in and be comfortable when The Lord calls us by our secret name and we dwell in His personal presence forever.

  • http://hiddeninjesus.wordpress.com Jessica Renshaw

    I love the promise in I John chapter 3, verse 2: “Dearly beloved, we are now the sons of God; and it has not yet appeared what we shall be. We know, that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him: because we shall see him as he is.” The transformation starts in this life: “But we all beholding the glory of the Lord with open face, are transformed into the same image from glory to glory, as by the Spirit of the Lord,” 2 Corinthians 3:18. Focusing on Him, gazing at Him, we take on His appearance without trying or even realizing it–just as Moses did!

  • Bill S

    Sometimes, I don’t know what has done more to make people do good and avoid evil, the promise of heaven or the threat of hell. Both have been instrumental in human evolution.

    I am not sure whether the realization that its all a means of manipulation has helped me or hurt me but I know that it is and knowing the truth and not be manipulated has to count for something.

    • Rebecca Hamilton

      Bill the manipulation is the claptrap you’ve read in books like those by Dr Dawkins. You had the truth before you let him play with you mind.

    • Theodore Seeber

      If the “manipulation” you are referring to is that of Richard Dawkins description, then I submit believing in the manipulation takes more faith than believing in God.

  • FW Ken

    C.S. Lewis wrore of this, I think in the Great Divorce. Heaven, hell, and purgatory begin in this life, as we live in the presence of Good, or not. Yet they find their completion in the Parouisa, in the Resurrection of the dead, in the New Heavens and the New Earth.

  • Bill S

    “Our citizenship in heaven has nothing to do with death, per se. It has everything to do with accepting the free gift of eternal life which Jesus offers us.”

    I don’t believe everything I read in the Bible, but I do believe that there was a man who ended up being called Jesus and he really did promise eternal life to those who believe that he was the “Son of Man/God”. I don’t believe that he was correct in any of those claims. It makes perfect sense that he would require people to believe in him. How else would he get people to believe? I’m not falling for the oldest trick in the book.

    • Rebecca Hamilton

      This is a reversal from some of your earlier statements. When and why did you decide that “there was a man named Jesus” instead of maintaining that no such person ever existed?

      “I don’t believe everything I read in the Bible, but I do believe that there was a man who ended up being called Jesus and he really did promise eternal life to those who believe that he was the “Son of Man/God”.”

    • Theodore Seeber

      Yes, instead, you believe uncritically, and on faith alone, what a liberal college professor and genocidal maniac from New College, Oxford, England writes.

  • Bill S

    “When and why did you decide that “there was a man named Jesus” instead of maintaining that no such person ever existed?”

    Saint Paul talks about Jesus in his letters. I assume that he did exist and that he was executed by the Romans. I don’t believe all his reported attributes or his resurrection and ascension.

    • http://www.rosariesforlife.com Dave

      “I don’t believe all his reported attributes or his resurrection and ascension.”

      What, then, explains the Apostles going from a bunch of fearful cowards to fearlessly traveling all over the world proclaiming Christ and ultimately giving their life for their beliefs?

      What explains Saul going from a man who helped in the imprisonment and martyrdom of Christians to being one of those Christians?

  • Bill S

    “What, then, explains the Apostles going from a bunch of fearful cowards to fearlessly traveling all over the world proclaiming Christ and ultimately giving their life for their beliefs?”

    Dave,
    Do you consider these stories of cowardice and subsequent martyrdom to be true and to serve as proof of a resurrection from the dead and an ascension into a heaven in the sky?

    • http://www.rosariesforlife.com Dave

      “Do you consider these stories of cowardice and subsequent martyrdom to be true and to serve as proof of a resurrection from the dead and an ascension into a heaven in the sky?”

      Certainly not absolute proof. If it were proof, there would be no need for faith. But the data does require an explanation.

    • Theodore Seeber

      http://www.patheos.com/blogs/markshea/2013/04/so-thats-where-they-are.html

      They’re not only true, if you’re rich enough to take a world tour, you can visit the graves yourself.

  • Bill S

    “If the “manipulation” you are referring to is that of Richard Dawkins description, then I submit believing in the manipulation takes more faith than believing in God.”

    No. Believing in God takes more faith than seeing the manipulative power of promising eternal life to those who believe and damnation to those who don’t. That’s not faith. That’s reality.


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