Perfect: 32nd Sunday OT

C.S. Lewis said, “If I find in myself desires which nothing in this world can satisfy, the only logical explanation is that I was made for another world.”

It’s a simple conclusion based on a simple observation. The observation is from within himself, observing his own nature and the way his heart works. Lewis finds in himself desires which nothing in this world can satisfy. I hope you’ll turn that observation on yourself. Is it true for you, too? Do have desires that nothing in this world can satisfy?

The truth is that everyone does. The tragedy is that not everyone knows it. Some of the unhappiest people you will ever meet are the ones who think everything their heart wants can be found in this world. They’ll keep looking and looking for that perfect satisfaction.

It’s a little tragic that they’re looking for something they can’t find. It’s much more tragic that because of it, they’ll miss out on the best things in life. All the best things in life will be disappointing to them, because they’re always looking for more. They’ll throw away the greatest gifts in their lives, because they have to run off after what’s still missing.

They will never find it on Earth, because what’s missing is Heaven. C.S. Lewis was a happy man because he knew he was missing Heaven. He knew it wouldn’t be found here on Earth… and that freed him to enjoy the Earth very much. He loved and accepted this world because he knew he was made for another world. All the Saints are happy because they know they’re missing Heaven. They are very happy because they don’t expect to be perfectly happy in this world. They don’t expect to be perfectly happy in this world because they know they were made for God.

How do you imagine Heaven? How do you picture the Kingdom of God? Jesus said a lot about what it’s like. The closest He came to really painting a picture was talking about a wedding feast. Imagine the best wedding feast you’ve ever been to, surrounded by the people you love, everyone together, and the food… every bite is an explosion of senses like you’ve never experienced, and the wine is just ambrosia, and it’s hilarious and fun and sweet and you’re a great dancer and everyone loves you and you love everyone and it’s all just… perfect.

Is that imagining Heaven? Nope. But it is a way to start our minds pointing in that general direction.

It’s also hard to imagine what eternity actually means. I heard an attempt once that went something like this: imagine a bird at the top of Mount Everest (I realize no bird can get there but it’s just a story) and he makes a single tiny scratch with his beak, leaving a mark that you might be able to detect with a powerful microscope, and then he flies away. Every 1000 years another bird scratches again, just one more microscopic scratch, once every 1000 years, and when Mount Everest has been scratched away without a trace, the time gone by will be nothing compared to eternity.

Cute. It’s a mind stretcher and it’s fun. Does it let you imagine eternity? No way. But it’s a way to start our minds pointing in that general direction.

We can’t imagine it, but we were made for it. We were made for a love, a peace, a joy that is perfect and endless. We can find love and peace and joy here that are amazing and beautiful and good, so incredibly good that for a while we mistake it for perfect. Then we find out otherwise. If you think you were made for this world, that’s going to be a big problem. It will mean to you that something is wrong. You’ve got the wrong spouse, or the wrong vocation, or there’s something terribly wrong with you. How many families have broken this way? How many people have squeezed each other to emotional oblivion trying to get out of each other what only God can give? When if they’d only realized they weren’t made for this world, they could have been happy.

Jesus teaches how the Kingdom of God exceeds marriage. He doesn’t teach this because marriage isn’t great. No, He teaches this because marriage is a good candidate for the best thing in the world. If you were going to mistake anything in the world for Heaven, it would be falling in love and being loved in return and living that incredible union in total commitment. People at the beginning of that journey, especially when we’re young, well… we’re just sure it’s what we were made for, perfect, all we could ever want or wish for… in a word, Heaven. It's that feeling like I could never want anything else. But you can, and you will, even if that love grows and lives on in the best possible way, and many years later it’s still faithfully lived in marriage. By then, the couple knows that it’s… not Heaven. It’s so good. It’s so, so very good. They can be so very happy if they know they weren’t made for this world.

So you married people who have a hard time with this teaching, be at peace. Jesus isn’t saying that you will lose what you love most. You will not be less close to your spouse in Heaven than you are now. You will be closer to them… and to everyone else. Can you imagine that? No way. We can only start our minds pointing in that general direction.

When we know we’re made for eternal life with God, everything changes. We are able to start enjoying this world so much for what it is and the good that is in it… instead of finding it bitter and inadequate for what it isn’t and the perfection that isn’t in it. We can live our lives more fully. Paradoxically, we can let them go more easily, too. Like the brothers and mother in our first reading, who were so willing to give up their lives for the sake of faithfulness, we can find peace in death the same way, the only way, we find peace in life: by knowing we weren’t made for this world.


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