3 May, Monday – Heaven Defined

May 3 – Feast of Sts. Philip and James, Apostles

St. Philip was a disciple of St. John the Baptist, and a convert. He was one of the Twelve Apostles, and brought St. Nathanael to Christ. He was a confidant of Jesus. Little is known about him, but scriptural episodes give the impression of a shy, naive, but practical individual. He preached in Greece and Asia Minor, and died a martyr for the faith.

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St. James the Lesser was the cousin of Jesus, and brother of St. Jude Thaddeus. He was raised in a Jewish home of the time, with all the training in Scripture and Law that was part of that life. He was a convert, and one of the Twelve Apostles. He was one of the first to have visions of the risen Christ.

He was the first bishop of Jerusalem. He met with St. Paul the Apostle to work out Paul’s plans for evangelization. He supported the position that Gentile converts did not have to obey all Jewish religious law, though he continued to observe it himself as part of his heritage. He may have been a vegetarian. He was a just and apostolic man known for his prayer life and devotion to the poor.

He was martyred for his faith in c.62 when he was thrown from a pinnacle of the Temple in Jerusalem, and then stoned and beaten with clubs while praying for his attackers. Having been beaten to death, a club almost immediately became his symbol, leading to his patronage of fullers and pharmacists, both of whom use clubs in their professions.

He is reported to have spent so much time in prayer that his knees thickened, and looked like a camel’s. Soon after the Crucifixion, James said he would fast until Christ returned; the resurrected Jesus appeared to him, and fixed a meal for James Himself.

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1 Cor 15:1-8
Jn 14:6-14

Philip said, “Lord, let us see the Father and then we shall be satisfied.”

During a recent chat with a friend, the topic of our expectations of what Heaven would be like came up. Unsurprisingly, we both had very different hopes for what it would be. I started to reflect on my vision of Heaven and I came to realise that it was focused on the self, and was limited by my beliefs of what I thought God was capable of. Instead of being open to whatever God has planned for us up there (or wherever Heaven may be), I sought to craft a very specific vision of what I wanted my version of Heaven to be like.

My expectations of Heaven centered on revisiting events and realising dreams that had not been achieved in my life. Many past hurts and regrets came to the fore, and I discovered that I had not yet gotten the deep healing that I needed to move on with my life. My friend, however, saw Heaven as a place of gathering with departed family and friends; a place of fellowship in God’s communion. Our differences served to highlight what we deem as important in our lives and led to us resolving to delve deeper into what holds meaning for us and how we would live our lives moving forward.

Brothers and sisters, I invite you to take some time, in the stillness of your hearts, to ask yourself what your idea of a perfect Heaven is. How would you feel if it was different, and are you willing to accept that it very well could be? Perhaps if we start to live our life solely for the glory of God, then Heaven may very well even be a place on earth.

(Today’s OXYGEN by Gregory Mathew)

Prayer: Dearest God, help us to act in service of you so that others may experience a little bit of Heaven through our words and deeds.

Thanksgiving: We thank you Father, for preparing a place for your people with you. Thank you for never leaving our side.

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