"I am caught between the two. I long to depart this life and be with Christ, for that is far better. Yet that I remain in the flesh is more necessary for your benefit. And this I know with confidence, that I shall remain and continue in the service of all of you for your progress and joy in the faith, so that your boasting in Christ Jesus may abound on account of me"(Philippians 1:18-30)
St. Paul well knew his mission. With great clarity and reverence he had pierced open the interior life by radical surrender to God's grace and deep desire to partake in His glory. His mission was one of proclaiming Christ in a manner far reaching, a mission for the good of others and the glory of God. He was given immense light to help us see.
If we remain in the flesh, aware of the goodness of eternal life, what is our purpose?
We too have a mission to fulfill for the Lord, for the good of God, for others, and truly for the good of our own soul, not yet secured beyond, not yet radiant with the glory of the Saints before us.
It is presumptuous of us to prematurely yearn to be Home, and not first ardently ask God sincerely, what our purpose is here, which is yet to be actualized.
I remember vividly when heaven became more real to me. Obviously I had faith that it was indeed a reality, but it was a distant one. As the reality of eternal life became more apparent to me I was flooded almost terribly with a sense of sorrow, which to me was totally missing the point. But it was from that moment, sitting in a retreat house in 2013 looking out a window sulking , that I opened my mouth with the most sincere prayer "Then, Lord, what the Hell am I here for?"
I recognized in my sentiment a disordered longing for heaven. Because it was motivated at that time with more of a desire to escape the Cross, than for union with God, and this to me was a humble awakening. St.Paul understood and pined for heaven with a deep love for union with God, not for the love of himself or as a means to escape difficulty, but he had the honest desire to be one with God.
Faithful awareness of heaven imbues us with our purpose for toil and loving service below.We do not long for heaven to escape the world and become indifferent while here, but find inspiration to share fruits of being secured in the knowledge of the eternal, by sharing the love of Christ.
This humbling lesson was important. It was this realization that also helped me understand what my vocation was. Prior to this I had wrestled immensely with where God was calling me to serve. Ironically such a simple prayer as "What the Hell am I here for?" opened a well of clarity.
If we know of heaven, if we believe in God, if we desire union with Him, then from this our love and compassion for others naturally takes root. Loving charity is needed.
We can then see the importance of praying for all of God's children, even those who have seemed to desert themselves from all goodness. We should strive to walk with joy, letting others gently know that it is God's love that most strengthens and fulfills.
It is love which they most need. Still, many deny Him and seek tirelessly. Often numbing themselves to the reality of their own emptiness; empty as a result of not knowing God. We deny Him too, in our failure to love. We should pray for others and not judge, for it is Our Lord Who gave us mercy. It is Christ Who dwells within;within the weakness of our humanity so that we are made most strong, by choosing to be receptive to His love for us. In various ways and roles, we are all sent forth by God in charity. With stern instruction by Him we are urged to love.
To share fruits of the knowledge of heaven, to share the goodness that is God's alone.