Heaven And Earth

All that exists has been created by God. Everything in the spiritual and material realms has their origin, purpose, and destiny in Him. The human being, comprised of both spiritual and material elements, is at once part of both realms. God, together with the created spirits, have their being in 'heaven'; while we mortal creatures exist on 'earth'.

The created spirits, instruments of God's guiding love, are angels in our midst: "ministering spirits sent to serve, for the sake of those who are to inherit salvation." (Hebrews 1.14) In their purity, they are able to behold the face of God: "angels in heaven always look upon the face of My heavenly Father." (Matthew 18.10) Throughout the history of God's people, and particularly in the Gospels, we find many accounts of the work of the angels in the salvation of God's people. The angels are at the service of the Lord Jesus, as they were created by Him and for Him. Each of us is blessed with the protective guidance of a guardian angel, who is with us each step of our life's journey.

The awesome beauty and incredible interdependence of all creatures on earth is a living testimony to the greatness of God's creative love. God has entrusted the earth and its creatures to the care of humanity. "God, the designer and maker of the earth who established it, not creating it to be a waste, but designing it to be lived in." (Isaiah 45.18) As God, in His providence, provides for the smallest of His creatures and plants, so humanity is called to care for His creation out of love for the Creator.

Each human being is created in the image and likeness of God, with a dignity transcending all other mortal creatures, and with the capacity to know and love God. Each person has the gift of free will and the potential to freely give of self in the loving service of God and one another. The soul, which is the spiritual dimension of the person, together with the body, form one nature as "the temple of the Holy Spirit." (1 Corinthans 6.19) We are called to respect the dignity of the self and of each other, out of love for God who dwells within us. Each man and woman is created in the image and likeness of God, equal and complementary as masculine and feminine. In the Sacrament of Marriage, the "man… cleaves to his wife, and they become one flesh." (Genesis 2.24) In the spiritual and physical unity of marriage, each couple shares in the creative love of God, as together they form a family with their children.

The original created order of humanity exists in harmony with God in love. Yet, as symbolized in the story of the temptation of Adam and Eve, the disordered desires of the heart impair the original created order and instinctively lead the heart to sin. The sacred trust of free will is created as the means by which each person can freely choose to love and serve God. The conscious choice to act against the purpose of God and disobey His commandments is what constitutes sin. Jesus said: "If you keep my commandments, you will remain in my love." (John 15.10)

The original created order of all spirits was good; yet many made the deliberate and irrevocable choice to reject God. The greatest of these spirits was Satan, whom Jesus characterizes as "a murderer from the beginning…a liar and the father of lies." (John 8.44) The power of the devil is not to be underestimated for his activities are disguised and his clever deceptions are subtle. "By the envy of the devil, death entered the world, and they who are in his possession experience it." (Wisdom 2.24)

Sin impairs our existence and hardens our hearts towards the love of God and our neighbor. Sin turns us in on ourselves, placing our own desires ahead of God's purpose and the good of our neighbor. Though the Sacrament of Baptism washes away the stain of original sin, we continue to battle against constant temptations and the natural inclination to sin for all of our lives. Yet we take heart in trusting in the awesome power of God's healing mercy. The power of the grace of God in Jesus Christ overcomes all evil: "Where sin increased, grace overflowed all the more." (Romans 5.20) Jesus said: "I did not come to call the righteous but sinners." (Mark 2.17) He came "to reconcile all things for Him, making peace by the blood of His cross (through Him), whether those on earth or those in heaven." (Colossians 1.19-20)

St. Paul advises us to: "Think of what is above, not of what is on earth." (Colossians 3.2) In keeping our eyes raised to heaven, hope buoys our hearts in the midst of our daily struggle with sin. St. Teresa of Jesus describes the joy of heaven to which each of us aspires in our earthly journey: "In Heaven we shall have an intrinsic tranquillity and glory, a joy in the rejoicings of all, a perpetual peace, and a great interior satisfaction which will come to us when we see that all are hallowing and praising the Lord, and are blessing His name, and that none is offending Him. For all love Him there and the soul's one concern is loving Him, nor can it cease from loving Him because it knows Him. And this is how we should love Him on earth, though we cannot do so with the same perfection nor yet all the time; still, if we knew Him, we should love Him very differently from the way we do now." (St. Teresa of Jesus, The Way of Perfection, 30.6)


Holy Spirit, help us to raise
Our eyes to heaven, where You dwell;
May all creation join in praise
Of God-with-us - Emmanuel.







References:

New American Bible - Catholic Edition

Catechism of the Catholic Church, paragraphs 325-421

St Teresa Of Jesus, The Way of Perfection




prepared by:

Paul Buis


(c) Paul Buis, 2006