Last year, when we heard the reading from St. John’s gospel about the “woman in anguish because her hour has arrived” (16:21), we discussed the agony and ecstasy of childbirth.
We talked about how each of us gave one poor woman a great deal of strife when we started our life on earth. And we discussed how we try to make it up every year, by sending flowers on the second Sunday of May.
In the end, when the birth pangs of this pilgrim life give way to the repose of our true life with God, we will see the unveiled face of Christ. And, as He tells us, we will have no more questions.
But this very statement of the Lord’s—that in heaven we won’t have any more questions—this very statement teaches us something crucially important. Until we get to heaven, we have to keep asking questions.
Here’s one example. In his book Jesus of Nazareth, Pope Emeritus Benedict tries to explain the Beatitude, “Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness.” Benedict considers the prevailing contemporary view regarding salvation, namely, as he puts it:
Everyone should live by the religion—or perhaps the atheism—in which he happens to find himself already. This, it is said, is the path of salvation for him.
We have all heard this, more or less, I think.
But Benedict responds to this prevailing view with this question: “Does someone achieve blessedness and justification in God’s eyes because he has declared his own opinions and wishes to be the rules of his conscience?”
In other words, did Jesus say, “Blessed are they who decide for themselves what rules they ought to follow?”
No, He did not say this. The Pope Emeritus points out in his book that the only way to find blessedness is to arouse one’s conscience by seeking God, by striving to learn God’s rules.
Learning the Catholic faith in its entirety may very well demand even more struggle and effort than giving birth. Not to take anything away from the ladies. But I think giving birth is a cakewalk compared to learning the Catholic faith in full.
If we have stopped asking questions about what God wants from us, if we have stopped seeking to learn more—if our minds are standing still while we are still here on earth, then we have not learned the Catholic faith in its entirety.