Heaven be like …

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Heaven? By Adriano Ortiz

They say that things come in threes.

Since two Sundays ago, we have been treated by our liturgy to Jesus’ parables in our Gospel readings.

Last Sunday, we heard the parable of the weeds, which accounts for the existence of evil in our lives.

Two Sundays ago, we heard the parable of the sower, which reminds us how God is like that of the sower who propagates the seeds anywhere and everywhere, which points us to how generous, careless, and abundant God is, in scattering His love.

And because things come in threes, we hear today three parables which make us see the Kingdom of God from various perspectives.

  1. Treasure hidden in a field
  2. A trader who finds a pearl
  3. Big fishing net laid down into the sea

These parables do not just present realities that point to the Kingdom of God. More importantly, these parables speak about the appropriate attitude on how to approach Heaven.

The first attitude toward Heaven is to set right our priorities. The man who finds the hidden treasure and the pearl know their priorities. And so, when they had found what they were looking for, they decided to give up all their belongings so that they could finally possess the treasure and the pearl.

This is also true for the young King Solomon in our first reading. When God asked him what he wanted to receive from God, he did not ask for a long life, nor for wealth, nor for military power so that he could over power his enemies.

Instead, what he asked was the capacity to choose between good and evil so that he could better govern his people. So that he could better serve as a king. He knew that when he has God in his life, he could never go wrong.

Ganito rin ba tayo? Inaanyayahan din ba natin ang Diyos na maging bahagi ng pag-gawa ng mahahalagang desisyon sa buhay? Kasama ba natin ang Diyos sa araw-araw nating pamumuhay?

The second attitude toward Heaven is the capacity to give up, to sacrifice.

Sacrifice has an interesting etymology. It comes from two Latin words “sacrum” and “facere.”  The former means holy, while the latter means to make. Hence, when you offer a sacrifice, you make that sacrifice sacred, you make it holy.

In the second reading, St. Paul reminds us how our God is not alien to sacrifices. He had a beautiful blueprint for us. But because sin destroyed this plan, He needed to sacrifice not just someone, but His very own Son for our sake.

Tayo, para ma-prove natin na mahal natin ang isang tao, pipili tayo ng isang regaling kaya ng budget natin. Pero ang Diyos, para ipamukha sa ating mahal Niya tayo, hindi Siya pumili ng isang bagay. Ipinagkaloob Niya ang nag-iisa Niyang Anak upang patunayang mahal na mahal Niya tayo!

This attitude of giving up comes when one knows his priority because we only offer sacrifice for something greater.

This is what we saw in the story of that man who found the treasure. This is what we heard in the story of the merchant who found the pearl of great price. Both of them had to give up something so that they could finally commit themselves to that which is greater than what they possess at the moment.

We also give up something for a greater cause.

I forego going out on a Friday night so that I could concentrate on my studies. I let go of my plans of buying the latest phone so that I could save up for a dream house. I set aside some savings so that I could add them up for the education of my children.

If God is on top of our priorities, we also give up something—or someone—so that we could possess God.

Is there a vice, or a thing, or a person that distance us from God at the moment? Can we commit to sacrifice them, to give them up, so that we could possess God?

The third attitude toward Heaven is inclusiveness. God is non-discriminatory.

Ang pag-ibig ng Diyos ay isang lambat na sumisilo sa lahat ng klase ng isda sa karagatan. Wala Siyang pinipili. Wala Siyang itinatangi. Lahat ay inaanyayahan Niyang samahan Siya upang makapiling Siya habang buhay.

We are also asked to have this attitude toward those individuals who test our patience, who challenge our charity.

Because Heaven is non-discriminatory, I will also choose to love no matter what.

If Jesus told stories to make us conscious of the reality of heaven, He also used the life story of the late Br. Elmer Rodriguez to indicate how our life on earth is already an indication of heaven that-is-still-to-come.

He helped to send thousands of young people to school. In many times, he would even have to shoulder their lodging.

Yesterday, we laid Br. Elmer to rest. That’s one of the most beautiful funeral rites I have witnessed. Not just because it was the most attended of all the burial rites in our cemetery in Canlubang, but because it became a fitting tribute to someone who was a firm believer that there is heaven.

His belief in God led him to offer his life as a Salesian, and in the process, became an instrument so that countless young people could also have a foretaste of it.

As we continue the celebration of the Eucharist, let us beg the Lord to help us set our priorities, make us give up, and grant us a big heart so that we may allow heaven to reign in our lives.

 

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