What is Heaven like? How do you picture it? What will it be like to live in Heaven?
There's a story about a man was very rich and was called to Heaven. Because he was rich and powerful he decided to negotiate with God. He insisted that he be allowed to bring with him some of his earthly possessions. God decided to allow him to bring one suitcase. That satisfied the man. He died and appeared at the pearly gate. St. Peter walked across a street of gold to greet him. Peter saw his suitcase and said, "This is strange. Nobody ever comes here with a suitcase." The man said, "I negotiated with God and God said I could bring whatever would fit in one suitcase." The man opened the suitcase and Peter looked inside. There were several bars of gold. St. Peter shook his head and said, "This is what you brought? You brought pavement?"
Have you noticed how often we repeat that man's mistake -- we imagine Heaven to be nothing more than an extension of earthly life.
I hear such things all the time at funerals. If dad was a fisherman, then people start talking about how dad is now fishing to his heart's content in some heavenly lake. If Brother Joe was a golfer, then now Joe must be on some back nine of a heavenly golf course. If Sister Mary made wonderful pies, then God surely must have her at work in the Heavenly Kitchen baking pies for the heavenly host.
It's easy to make fun of these images. What sense does it make to turn Heaven into a theme park of whatever pastimes and hobbies we enjoy on earth? Some people who think hard and long about these things have given up their belief in Heaven precisely because our ideas about Heaven are so vacuous.
Once you start thinking about it you can poke fun at the idea of heaven and make lots of jokes about what happens at the Pearly Gate -- which is what the Sadducees were doing with Jesus in the Scripture we read from Luke 20:27-40.
The Sadducees we ...
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