Imagining Heaven

The Nazareth Page - A gospel meditation for your home 

November 6, 2022 – 32nd Sunday in Ordinary Time - Luke 20:27-38

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As my years here on Earth accumulate, my thoughts about what comes next seem to increase. With each passing day, I know that I move closer to my own death. Of course, that countdown has been going on for over eight decades. Still, my interest in what comes next is stronger today than ever before.

As a person of faith, I carry a hopeful faith rooted in the resurrection of Jesus. I remain strong in believing that I (along with others) will not cease living, but will enter a new kind of existence, one rooted in God’s life-giving love. Details of that life remain, to put it simply, unknown.


In today’s gospel Jesus is asked by a group who believed in the existence of life after death, but for a particular reason. It had to do with their practice of having the unmarried brother of a deceased husband, marry the widow. Perhaps out of a concern that the family name be continued. So, they asked Jesus: who will be married to her in the afterlife? Jesus’s answer is brief. He simply affirms that God absolutely favors life. End of conversation.

But that’s no small affirmation. There are those who think that once we die, it’s all over. An absolute end of personal existence. While there is no empirical evidence that they are right or wrong, when believing in an afterlife, we must admit that this is a step into the unknown. It is based on faith not in our own power, but in God’s absolute power to offer life without end.

So, what will that existence be like? No one knows, although over the years, many have offered possibilities, some quite fanciful. With our current understanding of the cosmos, enjoying some kind of life on the clouds can be ruled out. But is heaven a specific place? Will we meet others there with whom we once shared life? Will I greet my mom and dad? Or my grandparents, some of whom died before I was even born? I hope so.

As I think and pray about all this, I grow in wonder and speculation. I am amazed at all that we are learning (and seeing) in our Universe, especially through the “eyes” of the James Webb Space Telescope. But I also recall Jesus saying that no eyes have seen what awaits us. I suspect it will be utterly amazing. Way beyond anything we can even imagine.  

©David M. Thomas, PhD

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