It is beautiful “to think of Heaven,” said Pope Francis Wednesday. “All of us will meet there, everyone. It is beautiful; it gives strength to the soul.”
At his general audience in St Peter’s Square this morning, before a crowd of tens of thousands huddling under umbrellas, Pope Francis congratulated the throng for the bravery to face the rain and come out “to pray together.”
Heaven seems to be on the Pope’s mind these days. On November 14, the Pope called heaven “a party.” He said it is “a true feast, and it begins now.”
Francis returned to the topic of heaven this morning. Despite the bad weather, Francis invited his hearers to contemplate the beauty of the afterlife. “When we turn toward this horizon,” the Pope said, “we realize that our imagination stops, barely able to perceive the splendor of the mystery that surpasses our senses.”
“God is preparing a new dwelling place and a new earth where justice will abide,” he said “and whose blessedness will answer and surpass all the longings for peace which spring up in the human heart.”
We are on “a continuous journey,” Francis continued, “towards the final, wonderful goal that is the kingdom of heaven.” The goal toward which the Church strives, he added, is “the new Jerusalem.” More than a place, he said, “it is a state of soul in which our deepest longings will be fulfilled abundantly” and our being will “come to full maturity.”
“We will finally be clothed in joy, peace and love of God in a complete way, without any limit, and we will be face to face with Him!” he said.
Francis said that it is beautiful to see how there is “a continuity between the Church in Heaven and the Church that still journeys on earth.” Moreover, he went on, “those who already live in the sight of God can indeed support us, intercede for us and pray for us.”
“From the Christian perspective,” the Pope continued, “the distinction is no longer between those who are already dead and those still living, but between those who are in Christ and those who are not! This is the decisive factor, truly decisive for our salvation and for our happiness,” he said.
Citing Saint Paul, Pope Francis said that “creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God.”
“The whole universe will be renewed and will be freed once and for all from all traces of evil and from death itself,” the Pope said. This will not be “an annihilation of the universe,” but will bring “everything to the fullness of being, truth and beauty.”
“When we think about these wonderful realities that await us,” the Pope concluded, “we realize that belonging to the Church is truly a wonderful gift, which carries within it a lofty vocation!”
Thomas D. Williams can be followed on Twitter @tdwilliamsrome