Think of what is above, not of what is on earth. (Colossians 3:2)
From time immemorial, man has conceived of three levels. 1) Here—the observable cosmos. 2) Up. 3) Down.
Here: the earth, the universe…day-by-day life with baseball games and back-to-school sales and train wrecks and summer movies. This level involves constant change, time passing, uncertainty, potential (that can be fulfilled or not), injustice lurking in every corner, fleeting pleasures, the possibility of a steak being good or bad, etc.In other words, nothing on this level is sure, nothing absolutely permanent. Twinkies may or not be available in the future. It might rain tomorrow; it might not. This level has excitement. But Fate is fickle. It would be nice if the Redskins went to the playoffs this year. But they might not.
On the other hand, the other two levels—the upper and the lower—they are more stable. Their realities endure.
Down—on the lower level—it is dark. And it always will be. It is miserable, and it always will be. It is hot,… The lower level of reality houses everything that is perpetually blind, perpetually selfish, nasty, ignorant, obtuse, and mean. Down below the earth—below the observable cosmos—down there everything ugly and foul plies its malice forever. No sounds harmonize; noises jangle in a hideous cacophony.
Down below, death reigns. On earth, here where we are, life has a chance. Things can grow. Wounded things can heal. We can learn by studying and expanding ourselves. But down below, that’s all over.
Our time on this level, in the observable cosmos—it will reach its end someday. Then, we will go either up or down, to one of the two permanent levels. The lower level has a name. It has borne the same name since time immemorial. We call the lower level…H. E. Double hockeysticks.
But let’s heed St. Paul’s command. “Think of what is above.” What lies above? Above the sky, the stars, the galaxies? Above the satellites and orbiters and SiriusXM radio? What lies above everything that can be seen by the naked eye–or even by the Hubble telescope, or any telescope? What dwells up above all of this?
Right: God. His angels. Jesus Christ, ascended on high. His saints. True justice. Undying light. Unfailing, humble love. Honesty and truth.
More: Up there we can see all the reasons. Everything makes sense. Why do babies make poop that smells so bad? In heaven, the answer is clear. Why is it so hard to peel a mango? In heaven, we will know. Everything makes sense, from the heavenly point-of-view.
And more: Up above, on the higher level, peace reigns. No one misunderstands. No one holds grudges. No one judges you on the way you look. Everybody respects and loves you for who you really are. Everyone’s gifts come to full flower. Nothing goes to waste.
And more: Music swells. With perfect harmony. A goal—the goal, the reason, the purpose, the point: It shines forth with infinite beauty. On the upper level: God Himself greets the eye and ravishes the heart with ineffable happiness, and a hymn of praise resounds–like the Grand Canyon itself breaking into song.
You fool! This night your life will be demanded of you. (Luke 12:20)
Listen: I have no fundamental problem with any location where you can get watermelon. And any place where you can sit and read a book is fine with me. Or go for a walk. Or drink a glass of pinot noir.
We love Mother Earth. But it’s a temporary joint. We can see for ourselves how it moves and changes and slips through our fingers. When I was seven years old, there were two grown-ups I could count on to play catch with me and my brother on a nice afternoon. Now both of those people lie in their graves.
It’s great to play catch—provided all your homework is done. But someday we will all die, and we will get on a supernatural elevator. And it will either go up, or it will go down.
The other levels loom above us and below us, full of mystery, inaccessible to our eyes. But inside, in our souls, we send and receive all kinds of information and interaction with the other levels all the time. The demons from hell plant nasty stuff in our minds. And, on the other hand, the holy angels sing truth and love in our deepest hearts to help us do right.
When we believe the Catholic faith, we can reach up towards the upper level. We can open an inner trap door in the ceiling and let the undying light from above seep in. We can come =to the holy altar, where God made man becomes our religious sacrifice and feeds us with His own Body and Blood. At the altar, the upper level and our level meet. In the Blessed Sacrament, heaven comes to earth.
So let’s always think of what is above and make ourselves rich in what matters to God.