September 19, 2012 - Wednesday of the Twenty-fourth Week in Ordinary Time

1 Corinthians 12.31-13:13
Psalm 33.2-3, 4-5, 12+22 Resp. 12
Luke 7.31-35

“If God really loves us, why didn’t he just put us in heaven right from the beginning?” I have heard this question so many times. The question is sincere, but such a misunderstanding of what heaven is. You might say to a small child, studying the alphabet, “If you work hard at this, someday you can take over our family business.” If that child then turned to you and said, “If you really loved me, you would put me in charge of the family business now”, what would you respond? It is not that they would do the work badly; they just would not do the work at all. It would make no sense to them. It is completely outside their framework of reality. What do people imagine that heaven is? A big free resort? No. Heaven is an activity. It makes no sense to speak of God putting us in heaven. The question is whether we are doing heaven.

Love, which is the activity of heaven, is something we practice here. Indeed, the purpose of life here on earth is to become an expert at love. “When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. Since I have become a man, the childish ways have ceased.” I have become mature in my body and in my intellect. Everyone grows up in their body, but without good nutrition and exercise, the body never becomes what it should be. Most everyone grows up in their intellect, but without a good education, the mind never becomes what it should be. The spiritual component of a human, without a training in love becomes twisted and atrophies. Some people, in their spirituality, are still infants, untrained, weak, immature. The solution is love. Love is both the only sure sign of spiritual maturity and the cause of it. The purpose of life is to learn how to love. The only way to learn how to love is to start doing it. Like a toddler, taking its first steps, slowly learns to walk, so we, weakly and with many falls, learn to love. One day the toddler begins to run and nobody can stop them, and someday love will not be a laborious chore, and we will run and then fly, and that is what heaven is.