Fr. Paul MacNeil
Homily for the 5th Sunday of Easter
I watched Guardians of the Galaxy this week, I was happy to see that the New York Times didn't give it a very positive review. It was ok, but a little too preachy to me. Be that as it may, I suppose it's good that our Christian values are finding expression in movies like that, I just don't like it when they think they invented it. One thing about these movies that I do find interesting: they just can't seem to resist talking about the afterlife, and I am generally really disappointed in that. If you want to really learn about the afterlife, look to God's revelation in scripture, you're not going to find it in Star Wars or Guardians of the Galaxy. One problem that I have with these movies is that nobody ever dies. Especially in star wars: Obi-Wan Kenobi - disappears under Darth Vader's sword only to reappear walking and talking to Luke Skywalker as if nothing happened. Yoda - he doesn't die, Even Han solo, makes an appearance - there he is! I was so grateful that the Marvel cinematic universe didn't do that. What made the infinity so spectacularly good and real as far as I'm concerned is that once their characters died they really died!!!! Gamorra, what a heartbreaker that was. So here we are, the third installment of Guardians of the Galaxy and they just couldn't resist it. They brought Gomorra back from the dead, with absolutely no explanation. It doesn't work like that, at least not according to scripture. If you want to know about death and resurrection and salvation, you have to turn to the bible. And what does it say in the bible? I have a few thoughts on that and a way of summarizing it. I call it "Top 10 things that surprise you about heaven:"
That it exists
That you’re there - you made it!
How beautiful it is
That some of your friends are also there
How friendly and personable and close God is - it’s about recognition: "We knew Him all along,” just didn’t realize it.
How much your life actually makes sense now that you are in heaven? It’s about perspective.
How involved God has been in our lives, how protective God has been\
How merciful God is God is not interested in your sin - let it go.
How and why you got to heaven - you may be a good person and that’s wonderful, but our ticket into heaven is simpler than that. All you have to do is believe in Jesus.
How much God actually loves you - this is the central message of our whole catholic theology. That love is real, and it is amazing.
I conclude with a quotation from Pope Francis: "This is what Jesus did for us. He reserved a place in heaven for us...Let us not forget this. The dwelling place that awaits us is paradise. We are in transit here. We are made for heaven for eternal life, to live forever. Forever: it is something we cannot even imagine now. But it is even more beautiful to think that this forever will be entirely in joy, in full communion with God and with others, without any more tears, without resentment, without division or turmoil. But how can we reach heaven? What is the way? It is not the way of my self-centeredness. It is the way of Jesus, who is the protagonist of my life ... It would be good for us to ask Jesus who is the way, for the directions to reach heaven (Regina Coeli, 10 May 2020.)