The True Presence of God in our World
August, 19, 2018
An 85-year-old couple, married almost 60 years, died unexpectedly in a car crash. They had been in very good health due to the wife’s insistence on eating healthy foods and exercise.
When they reached the Pearly Gates, St. Peter took them to their mansion. It was decked out with a beautiful kitchen, a master bath suite and a Jacuzzi. As they ooohed and aaahed, the old man asked Peter how much all this was going to cost. "It's free," Peter replied, "this is Heaven."
St. Peter then showed them the championship golf course that their heavenly home overlooked. He told them they would have golfing privileges every day.
The old man asked, "What are the greens fees?" Peter's reply, "This is Heaven; you play for free."
Next, they went to the clubhouse where a lavish buffet was laid out for them. "How much does this cost?" asked the old man. "Don't you understand yet? This is Heaven! It's free!" Peter replied. "Okay, where are the low fat and low cholesterol foods?" the old man asked timidly. Peter smiled and said, "That's the best part...you can eat as much of whatever you like, and you never get fat or sick. This is Heaven!"
The old man looked at his wife and said bitterly, "You and your bran muffins! I could have been here ten years ago!”
I often joke that while we all want to be in heaven, when asked if we want to meet God now, the answer is a resounding “No.” We want it but not yet!
“I am the bread that comes down from heaven” points us to the Divine origin of Jesus and becomes the true presence of God in our world. Eating this Bread of Life results in a profound oneness with God. We often miss the incredible implication of this act: God comes into our human world and offers his flesh and blood, his entire life, to feed us. Heaven is no longer out in some distant galaxy, but here within us. There is nothing closer than “within us.” God is within us, around us, before us, surrounding us…we cannot even imagine it. And God’s closeness to us fulfills the promise of Jesus, “I will be with you always until the end of the world.”
To experience this oneness with God requires faith. We believe in the words of Jesus that he is truly the bread that comes down from heaven and is present on the sacred altar during Mass.
As Soren Kierkegaard famously said: “If you think you understand, it isn't God.”