Wednesday, April 7, 2010

On Seeing Loved Ones Again

A colleague's question chilled my spirit when he asked, tongue-in-cheek, "What happens if there's people I don't want to see?"

When it comes to resurrection, none of us can know based on experience. The Bible says lots of things about resurrection and the afterlife but not that much about the details. Biblical talk of who we're going to see doesn't really answer my friend's question, because Scripture's main theme concerns living again, seeing God and being with Jesus in a whole new way.

I think one of the great chasms which we will negotiate is the difference between the way we fashion our lives and even speak of building God's kingdom in the here and now- and the receiving of God's kingdom is gift and grace in the hereafter.

Toward this end, I find the 12th Century mystic Aelred of Rievaulx's description based on Revelation 21:1-22:5 very helpful:

What the kingdom of God will be like we cannot even think, let alone say or write. But this I know, that nothing at all will be missing that you would wish to be there, and nothing at all will be there that you would not wish to be. So there will be no discord, no envy, no tribulation, no temptation, no variable weather, no overcast skies, no suspicion, no ambition, no adulation, no detraction, no sickness, no old age, no death, no poverty, no darkness, no need to eat, drink, sleep, no tiredness, no weakness.

What good then will be lacking? Where there is no mourning or weeping or pain or sadness, what can there be but perfect joy? What is there further for us to seek? To be sure, what surpasses all these things, that is the sight, the knowledge and the love of the Creator. Who can say anything of its beauty, of its light, of its sweetness? For God will be seen as God is, fulfilling the promise which tells us: “Those who love me will be loved by my Father, and I will love them and show myself to them.” From this vision will proceed that knowledge of which our Lord says, “This is eternal life, that they should know you are the one God, and him who you sent.”

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