Communion of Saints
Living in Heaven Now
Friday, March 12, 2021
Jesus spoke these things, and lifting up his eyes to heaven, he said, “Father . . . I do not ask on behalf of these alone, but for those also who believe in me through their word; that they may all be one; even as you, Father, are in me and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you sent me.” —John 17:1, 20–23
This beautiful prayer for union is from Jesus’ Last Supper address to his disciples. It might be the highest level of mystical teaching in the entire New Testament. Here Jesus connects everything: he in his Father, the Father in you, you in God, God in him, God in the world, and you in the world. It’s all one.
I think this is the core realization of every saint. Saints see things in their connectedness and wholeness. They don’t see things as separate. It’s all one, and yet like the Trinity, it is also different. What you do to another, you do to yourself; how you love yourself is how you love your neighbor; how you love God is how you love yourself; how you love yourself is how you love God. How you do anything is how you do everything.
Faith is not simply seeing things at their visible, surface level, but recognizing their deepest meaning. To be a person of faith means we see things—people, animals, plants, the earth—as inherently connected to God, connected to ourselves, and therefore, absolutely worthy of love and dignity. That’s what Jesus is praying for: that we could see things in their unity, in their connectedness.
I will go so far as to say that the more we can connect, the more of a saint we are. The less we can connect, the less transformed we are. If we can’t connect with people of other religions, classes, or races, with our “enemies” or with those who are suffering, we’re not very converted. Truly transformed individuals are capable of a universal recognition. They see that everything is one.
We don’t go to heaven; we learn how to live in heaven now. And no one lives in heaven alone. Either we learn how to live in communion with other people and with all that God has created, or, quite simply, we’re not ready for heaven. If we want to live an isolated life, trying to prove that we’re better than everybody else or believing we’re worse than everybody else, we are already in hell. We have been invited—even now, even today, even this moment—to live consciously in the communion of saints, in the Presence, in the Body, in the Life of the eternal and eternally Risen Christ. This must be an almost perfect way to describe salvation itself.
Adapted from Richard Rohr, “Seeing Is Not Always Recognizing,” homily, Albuquerque, New Mexico, May 8, 2016.
Story from Our Community:
Walking at dawn during a difficult life transition many years ago, I suddenly felt the trees comforting me like grandmothers. My own grandmothers were a steady source of unconditional love and security, giving us shelter whenever we needed it. Now that I am a grandmother myself, trees remind me that my role is simply to stand by with a steady supply of silent love. —Karen F.