With the Solemnity of the Ascension of the Lord, celebrated this year on May 29, we are reminded of our inherent desire for heaven and of how we can actualize that desire mainly through the carrying out of our ordinary duties here on earth, especially by taking care of the little things.
Despite our weaknesses, mistakes, sins, etc., we have in our heart of hearts an inherent desire for heaven. As the Catechism would put it, “This desire (for happiness) is of divine origin: God has placed it in the human heart in order to draw man to the One who alone can fulfill it.” (1718)
This truth of our faith is illustrated in that gospel episode where a rich young man approached Christ, asking what he had to do to gain eternal life. (cfr. Mk 10,17-27) As that gospel story unfolded, Christ told him first to follow the commandments, and when the young man said that he had observed all those, Christ then told him to “sell what you have, and give to the poor and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.”
Well, we know how the young man reacted to that response of Christ. It was a sad ending, precisely because the young man found it hard and was unwilling to follow what Christ told him. That’s when Christ said, “How hard it is for those who have wealth to enter the Kingdom of God!…It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for one who is rich to enter the Kingdom of God.”
We have to realize that to meet our inherent desire for eternal happiness, for heaven, we need to free ourselves from any attachments to earthly things, even as we use them and even enjoy them in our earthly affairs. The things of this world should be a means for us to be with God. They should not be a competitor with God.
But the main way we can always have a sense and a zeal for heaven while immersed in the things of this world is when we know how to offer the ordinary little daily duties, involving little things, to God always.
Make no mistake about this. The little, ordinary things of our daily life can and should be pathways to reach heaven and be with God while here on earth. This truth of our Christian faith has been amply proclaimed by Christ in many of the parables he used to describe how the kingdom of God is.
“This is how it is with the Kingdom of God; it is as if a man were to scatter seed on the land and would sleep and rise night and day and the seed would sprout and grow, he knows not how,” he said (Mk 4,26-27), practically telling us that the heaven can be reached through the daily routine we have.
Still more, he said, “To what shall we compare the Kingdom of God…it is like a mustard seed that, when it is sown in the ground, is the smallest of all the seeds on earth. But once it is sown, it springs up and becomes the largest of plants and puts forth large branches, so that the birds of the sky can dwell in its shade.” (Mk 4,31-32)
We need to realize in an abiding way that Christ is always with us through the Holy Spirit, and with him, no matter how things go in this life, we already would have a taste of heaven which is actually meant for us!*