Sunday, November 20, 2011

Heaven Isn't Too Far Away

Yes, that's right. I just used a Warrant lyric as a title for this blog. You're welcome. Here's even a link to the video

Talk of heaven has been the theme for my past week as I taught the Ascension to my students. And now we have upon us the theme of Christ the King today which we celebrate Jesus as the King of Heaven and Earth.

And here's another 80s hit with a heavenly theme

For the record, as much as I LOVED this song growing up, Belinda Carlisle's concept of heaven being a place on earth is not liturgically correct. Heaven HELP US if Heaven is like a place here on a earth.

Also, I never understood the children in masks in that video. Makes heaven seem a little scary, huh? Though, if heaven is a place on earth, I think that would be scary.

That's why it's so great that it's not. We don't know exactly what heaven will be like, but we do know we will be in complete union with God. I know I've mentioned before how my students don't understand how this could be positive. They think it's going to be boring. I keep telling them that getting to just SIT and BE for all eternity sounds AWESOME. They also can't imagine a world without video games, so they worry me a little.

Though today is a great feast in its own right, I was struck yesterday at daily Mass by the Gospel reading:

Some Sadducees, those who deny that there is a resurrection,
came forward and put this question to Jesus, saying,
"Teacher, Moses wrote for us,
If someone's brother dies leaving a wife but no child,
his brother must take the wife
and raise up descendants for his brother.
Now there were seven brothers;
the first married a woman but died childless.
Then the second and the third married her,
and likewise all the seven died childless.
Finally the woman also died.
Now at the resurrection whose wife will that woman be?
For all seven had been married to her."

I was struck because these Sadducees sound like my students. They are posing some very specific questions to Jesus: "Well what if this dude marries this girl, but then HE dies, and then another dude marries her, and then He dies, and then..."

UGH. I HATE the "what if" scenarios my students create just to stump me in class.

The Sadducees are doing the same thing- trying to stump Jesus. Only here's the thing- I'M NOT JESUS. Wait. WHAT? Yeah. I'm not. Glad we cleared that up.

Though, I AM the students' teacher, which is why they pay me the big bucks. (yeah, right). And the people of Jesus' time called Him "Rabbi" and "Master". (Note: my students call me neither of these things).

So lately I have been kind of beating myself up when I DON'T have all the answers for the students. I want them to understand and answer their questions, but the reality is, again, NOT GOD here. Also, Heaven is a MYSTERY to us in a way. But it is a reality that we should want to work towards, so I want to make that message as clear as possible.

God has taken to humbling me this week. I mentioned last post how Mother Nature was perhaps making me a little vulnerable. Well, i don't know if that's still the case or the change in the weather, or the inquisition of students, or just the need for the upcoming Thanksgiving break, but God has been allowing me to be a little vulnerable and broken down this week. And humility is good, because it keeps us close to Him. I just wish it didn't feel so icky at times.

I finally got to have spiritual direction (Yay!) and it was so good. I have been struggling- as is often the case with ministers- to separate my prayer time that's just for ME vs turning it into lesson planning time for my classes. I will go to pray and immediately think of what I can use in a lesson plan or bring to my classes. Lately, I've just needed to be me in front of Jesus. Not Julia the teacher, Just Julia. (no jazz hands, please :).

Our bishop in the Arlington Diocese has been promoting a devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus recently. My spiritual director and I both agreed that we didn't initially understand fully the beauty of this devotion. My roommates and I have been talking about having an image of the Sacred Heart blessed and dedicated in our house, and while I wasn't against it, I guess I didn't understand the need I had in my life for this devotion at this particular time.

At Spiritual Direction, Father shared with me how beautiful the devotion really is- How we can go to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and just allow ourselves to be loved by Him. It sounds so simple, but it is what I needed this week. These past couple of months have been so full of ministry opportunities and I'm so grateful for them, but I've found that I needed to be ministered TO of late. And to just allow the Sacred Heart of Jesus to love me, all going back to that whole concept of being the Beloved.

So Jesus, though breaking me down a little, is doing some good things in my life- drawing me close to Him again after a couple of months of giving a lot in ministry. I think this period of time will be a time of refreshment. We have Thanksgiving coming, up and...omg...ADVENT NEXT WEEK! Our liturgical new year! Time to make some resolutions!

Also, this is the LAST SUNDAY for the "old" Mass translations. Beginning on the 1st Sunday of Advent next week, we will have some NEW responses in the English Mass. I've blogged about this before. I'm a little nervous, little excited in such a ridiculously nerdy way. I'm ready to begin the changes and see what fruit they bring.

That seems to be a theme- a little stepping outside our comfort zone, a little change, to bring about great fruit if we let it.

Heaven isn't too far away, people :) We are working towards it little by little in each of these ways.

Have a blessed Thanksgiving! I know we all have much to be thankful for.


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