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Heaven is for real — but are we really for Heaven?

Homily for the Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary

The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, body and soul into the heart of Heaven, may not seem immediately relevant to us. But at the core of this feast day is the fundamental Christian belief that we too are destined to enjoy Heaven forever.

Heaven is ours — not because we are particularly good, or because we earned it — but purely by the grace given to us through the Life, Death and Resurrection of our Savior, Jesus Christ. 

Jesus is the Way into Heaven. Jesus is the Truth about Heaven. Jesus is the very Life of Heaven itself.

And Mary, from the moment of her conception, was full of precisely this grace — the grace of God’s own salvation! We hear her sing: “My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord! My spirit rejoices in God my savior!” Mary is assumed into Heaven, not because she deserved it on her own merits, but because “the Lord has done great things” for her — “and Holy is His Name.”

From all this, it becomes clear: Mary’s entrance into Heaven proves that it is possible for us to go to Heaven, as well. In this sense, she is the “hope” of all humanity: She is a living witness that through Christ, with Christ, and in Christ, we mere human beings can enter into the Father’s mansions.

But here, a certain difficulty can emerge.

We know that Heaven is a place of perfect peace. It promises complete and total fulfillment of all our deepest longings. It is a place where we can be truly, deeply happy — free of all pain, sadness and suffering.

But this is only because we will be absolutely with God — the fountain of all Truth, all Beauty, and all Goodness. We will see Him face to face. That’s the source and foundation of all the joys of Heaven! “No eye has seen, nor ear has heard what God has prepared for those who love him.” Heaven is only for those who dare to love God. That’s ultimately what drew Mary our Mother upwards.

So we have to consider: Heaven is for real — but are we really for Heaven? We probably like the sound of never-ending happiness — but do we also like the sound of being brought face-to-face with our Maker?

That’s what Heaven is. Perfect, unveiled union with Him.

Some people today will say that God and religion just aren’t really for them — but you’ll find that these same people vaguely expect to go to a place kind of like Heaven when they die — they assume they’ll go to a “better place” as they say. But my honest question is simply this: What makes them so sure that they will want Heaven when they see it?

If they did not want God here on earth — why would they want Him when everything else is stripped, and there is NOTHING left BUT God Himself? 

This is not just a problem for agnostics and atheists. We do this all the time, too!

The world we live in was designed to lift our heart, mind, and will to God — and yet we can so easily become fixated on what is here below. We can fail to look up. We can even fool ourselves into believing that the God who created all of this — the Artist who painted this brilliant picture — is distant from us, and kind of irrelevant. In a word: We can begin to pursue earth at the expense of Heaven.

The ultimate and final end of this pursuit, of course, is what the Church calls “Hell” — which is to say, the sad denial of Heaven. Hell is eternal separation from God. It is everlasting disappointment.

Human beings were made to enjoy God forever, and if we cannot enjoy Him… then there is nothing to enjoy.

Thankfully, we have a strong Advocate on our side who is constantly interceding for us. Our Blessed Mother Mary is eager for us to join her in Heaven. And she works constantly to draw us to her side so that we can enjoy God with her forever.

She is our Mother! Why wouldn’t she tirelessly work to ensure that we have everything we need to come into our rest? To receive that which has been won for us by the Dying and Rising of her Son? Heaven was purchased for us at a very high price. 

Mary, of all people, knows how much it cost. She stood at the foot of the Cross. She saw the wounds that won Heaven for us. She felt the sword pass through her Immaculate Heart as her Son suffered and died to open up Paradise for sinners! She knows how desirable Her Son’s love truly is! How sweet His grace!

How could she stand idle when so many are in danger of missing out on Heaven? 

And so we pray in the Salve Regina: “Turn then, most gracious Advocate, thine eyes of mercy toward us, and after this our exile, show unto us the blessed fruit of thy womb, Jesus!” Show unto us the blessed fruit of Heaven! Show unto us the blessed fruit of everlasting joy!

In the meantime, as we long to receive Heaven with unveiled faces, we gather here in the Liturgy — which is, in fact, a participation even now in that eternal, heavenly liturgy. It’s here that we, in a sense, train our hearts to recognize and desire Heaven — to recognize and desire God Himself. Here, in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, the Lord slowly molds us into the type of people who — when it’s finally our time to go and meet our Maker — will run out to meet Him. We will be filled with excitement and joy as He embraces us forever.

We will cry out with Mary our Mother, Assumed into Heaven: “My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord! My spirit rejoices in God my savior!”

By Fr. Anthony Ferguson

Fr. Anthony Ferguson is a priest of the Catholic Diocese of Richmond. He is currently assigned at St. Andrew's Catholic Church in Roanoke, VA.

One reply on “Heaven is for real — but are we really for Heaven?”

Very well said! I never thought about the “busy” people who don’t have time for God being “stuck” with him when all else is gone after death. Thanks for something new to ponder!

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