Citizens of heaven


Catholic Sunday Reflection

By Rev. Fr. Tristan Jasper D. Laforteza

Before, simple black-and-white cell phones were all the rage. These days, new cell phone models come out every single month. In the same manner, the Walkman was introduced to allow people to listen to music on-the-go back in the 80’s. Nowadays, mp3 players and other expensive music players are must-haves. When computers were first introduced for personal use, people were only concerned about the machine’s performance. But now, if your computer isn’t expensive and flashy, it’s as if you’re living in the Stone Age.

We are living in an ever-changing world, and we cannot deny the fact that every time the world changes, we are affected by this change. Consequently, we tend to ‘run after’ these worldly changes just to ‘fit in’. The Second Reading however clarifies that we are living in this world but neither of or for this world.

It means that we are simply pilgrims who are on a journey here on earth towards a higher place with the Divine. “For many live as enemies of the cross of Christ,” as St. Paul would say, “their minds are set on earthly things. But our citizenship is in heaven, and it is from there that we are expecting a Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ” (Phil. 3:18-20). Unfortunately, many focus only on what they own materially and not on God. Slowly but surely, the world begins to possess these people and make them slaves of temporary riches. We forget the fact that we are placed in this world to cultivate its many blessings for honor and glory of God whom we should be looking forward to be with in the end.

The event of Transfiguration, as narrated in the Gospel, gave us a foretaste of the Kingship of Jesus in a Kingdom where all of us, together with those who have died before, would be in a glorious state of existence. God’s Word says, “Suddenly they saw two men, Moses and Elijah, talking to him.  They appeared in glory and were speaking of his departure, which he was about to accomplish at Jerusalem.  Now Peter and his companions were weighed down with sleep; but since they had stayed awake, they saw his glory and the two men who stood with him” (Lk. 9:30-32). Jesus began these accounts with intense prayer that He started to shine with bright rays of light. It was a deepest desire to be in communion with the Father. Indeed, whenever we pray whole-heartedly, we come to an overwhelming encounter with the Divine, something that cannot be given by the honors of this world. However, prayer has to be coupled with concrete actions of obedience to God.

God wants us to congregate and enjoy all the treasures in heaven. But we need to establish an intimate and steadfast relationship with God while on our way here on earth. Abraham in the First Reading gave us a perfect example of it. God’s Word says, “He [God] brought him outside and said, ‘Look toward heaven and count the stars, if you are able to count them.’ Then he said to him, ‘So shall your descendants be.’  And he believed the Lord; and the Lord reckoned it to him as righteousness” (Gen. 15:5-6). God rewarded abundantly the fidelity and obedience which Abraham manifested. Hence, all that we need to do is simply submit ourselves to God. There may be time when what we think is different from God’s Will, but once we obey Him in spite of our uncertainties, His Divine Providence will enlighten our minds and hearts. In effect, we would come to discover the wisdom and goodness behind His Will.

Finally, let me share with you the words of St. Augustine, “The honors of this world, what are they but puff, emptiness and peril of falling?”