Through incorporation into the Church in the sacrament of baptism, Christians come to share in the victories won by the passion, death, and resurrection of Christ. At the font, which is both the tomb of our former selves and the womb of our birth into new life, we come to die and rise with Christ, and so share with him in eternity. By becoming reconciled children of God, restored to the relationship forfeited at the fall, we are made for the glory of heaven, and so strive in our earthly lives to live with faces turned toward eternity.
We live now in the life of Christ, so that we might conform our wayward selves, our concupiscence and selfish desires, to God, and prefer nothing to him and the eternal life to which he calls us. That life is the life of the saints; the life of the kingdom of heaven, of which we catch a glimpse on this feast of the transfiguration of the Lord.
Heaven, then, is not, for us, some distant place. If we long for the peace and unity of God’s kingdom, the mystical body of Christ glorified in the presence of our eternal Father, then it is in his presence that we should seek to dwell here and now. As an athlete prepares for the race of his life, so we must ready ourselves for heaven, by adjusting to the life of perfection, the life of Christ and the saints.
First and foremost, this is done in the celebration of the sacred liturgy. Here we are caught up as the mystical body of Christ in the relationship of the Most Holy Trinity. Here, at the altar of the Lord, heaven becomes a living reality in which we participate. As the Son of Man ascended the mountain, so in the Mass the Priest leads us to the place where Christ is brought into our midst in the glory of his transfigured life, to sanctify us, and call us to desire only that which brings us a share in his splendour.
It is here, more than anywhere, that we encounter the Father’s beloved Son. It is here that fall prostrate before the Ancient One, and say with one voice, ‘Lord, it is good that we are here’. And it is here that we hear his voice, calling us, ‘Rise, and do not be afraid’.
As we come to the Lord in this sacrificial feast of his Body and Blood, may we have the disposition to recognize the fullness of what we receive. May that summon us to an ever-greater holiness of life, and may we one day be clothed in the white robes of saints, and dwell for all eternity in the presence of the Lord, the king, the Most High over all the earth.