by Ken Rolheiser
Between Heaven and Earth

Every holy church is a piece of heaven on earth. And when you’re in church, look – you’re already in heaven. When the earth torments you with its hell, hurry to church, go inside, and behold – you have entered paradise” St Justin Popovic.

There is a thin space between earth and heaven. As a College graduate Rick Hamlin (Guideposts) took a trip to Assissi, birthplace of St Francis. Inside the church Rick and his friend learned about the life of Saint Francis in brilliant colors. They left the church and reached the actual town square. 

All at once, the greyness seemed to part. Rick caught a glimpse of the town square as it once had been. Rick could see Francis on one side and his father on the other, dressed in the finest cloth.
“Why did you sell the clothes from my store?” He heard the father shout. “What did you do with the money?”
“I gave it to the poor,” Francis said.
“It wasn’t yours to give away.”
“It all comes from God,” Francis answered. “It can go back to God.” With that, he removed his fancy clothes, all that remained of his past, and left them on the pavement. 
It was only a moment. “Did you see that?” Rick said.
“What?” asked his friend.
“Never mind.”

Jesus has invited us to participate in the life of heaven even while still on earth. Some things we already experience, while others are a not yet experience. Through Baptism we are already a child of God and precious to him. We are baptized into Christ Jesus, into his death, and raised into new life.

The Catechism of the Church tells us we already participate in the life of Christ, and we have ascended with Christ to the right hand of the Father (1003). God has raised us up with Christ, “Once and for all”, and made us citizens of heaven – members of God’s Kingdom. (Ephesians 2:19).

We worship with countless angels at the throne of God (Hebrews 12:22) as we sing “Holy, Holy, Holy…” at Mass and worship. We have the life of Christ in us as the Holy Spirit enlivens us. We live the resurrected life in Jesus Christ.

Though we may still struggle with sin in our lives, the actions of our lives serving others have eternal significance, storing up treasure for us in heaven. We have access to God through Jesus.

As an example of this access, in the Book of Esther, Persian King Ahasuerus (Xerxes) allowed no one to enter the throne room on pain of death, including his Queen Esther. When Ahasuerus ordered all the Jews to be killed, Esther risked her life to plead to the King on behalf of her people.

In contrast to earthly Kings, thanks to Jesus, we can approach God directly. Our prayer line is open. And the Holy Spirit even assists us in our prayer approach. 

We already have eternal life within us. Part of us will never die. Jesus offered us his body and blood as Eucharist. “Whoever eats this bread will have life everlasting and will be raised up on the last day.” In John 6:51 Jesus says: “I am the living bread that has come down from heaven. Anyone who eats this bread will live forever.” 

“I tell you most solemnly…He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood lives in me and I live in him” (John 6).
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