Subscribe via RSS Feed Connect on Pinterest Connect on Google Plus Connect on Flickr Connect on YouTube

Heaven is an Acquired Taste

July 30, 2017

There is a tendency today to forget that Heaven is an acquired taste; not everyone wants what God offers. While everyone wants to be happy, often happiness is conceived of in an egocentric way. Heaven is thought of as a personally designed paradise where we will be happy on our own terms.

But that is not what Heaven is. Heaven is the Kingdom of God in all its fullness. Its values and qualities are manifold but include many things that are not immediately desirable to those who live with hearts and minds that are worldly and sinful. The Kingdom of God features ideas that are often unpopular: love of one’s enemies, generosity, love of the poor, and chastity. Heaven features God and His teachings at the center, not me and what I think. Yes, Heaven is a place where every aspect of God’s law is perfectly manifested. Yet many find some of these things not only undesirable but downright obnoxious; some even call them hateful and intolerant. To those in darkness, the light seems harsh.

Yes, Heaven is an acquired taste. This helps to explain that the existence of Hell is not due to a “mean” God trying to remove people whom He doesn’t like from His presence. It is a respectful acceptance by God of the free decision made by those who do not want what He is offering. They do not want to think differently or even be told what to think. They do not want to give up their favorite sins or have their hearts purified of unruly or disordered appetites. In the end, God will not force us to love what and whom He loves. He will not force us to live in His Kingdom.

In his book The Great Divorce, C.S. Lewis makes this very point. In it, many people come to “tour” Heaven, some of whom do not like what they find. Some struggle to adjust, others are resentful and say, in effect, “No thanks.” If you have not read it, I strongly encourage you to do so; it is an important book to read and ponder.

In yesterday’s Gospel, the Lord inquires after our hearts by giving us the images of buried treasure and a pearl of great price. The one who finds them goes and sells all he has in order to obtain them. Does this describe your heart? Does it describe the hearts of our family, friends, and compatriots? Often, the answer is no. Most people are not will to give up everything for the Kingdom of Heaven. Our hearts are disordered. We easily desire things that are sinful and harmful, and not so much those that are good, holy, and lasting. We prefer apparent goods to true goods. If we are faithful, the Lord can get us to that disposition of heart—but it takes time. At least grant Him your willingness to get to that place!

In yesterday’s Gospel the Lord also speaks of a dragnet. While he uses it as an image for the final judgment, that final judgement ultimately depends on the myriad judgments we make in our daily life. As you haul the net of your life ashore, what do you keep, finding it valuable, and what do you discard? Do you value what God is offering and retain it or do you more highly value other things in the net? What do you keep and what do you discard? The answers to questions like these points to your place in the net at the last judgment. God will gather into His Kingdom those who have desired it, not those who have rejected it.

Give the Lord your heart. Open when He knocks. Let Him create a desire in you for the very things He is offering. In the end, Heaven is an acquired taste, more so than we commonly imagine. Let God give you a taste for better and higher things.

This song says, “I’m trying to make heaven my home!”

Filed in: God • Tags: , ,

Comments (4)

Trackback URL | Comments RSS Feed

  1. Margaruite says:

    I have the book as it is on both of my children’s summer reading list. I never thought to read it. Thank you.
    Also, thanks for your articles they are wonderful.

  2. RAY - PORTSMOUTH - UK says:

    Thank you, as ever, Msgr Charles.
    You quite often quote the great C S Lewis, whose writings I have always loved and cherished – alongside what God Himself tells us in scripture.
    Lewis’s contention is – (and I believe in my humble opinion, absolutely correctly) – that our life’s education fixes our minds on the things of ‘this’ world – and that, in any case, even when the desire for heaven is within us, we just do not recognise it!
    I cannot say it as well, nor certainly any better than he does, so I will offer this lovely quote from his superb book, ‘Mere Christianity’:

    “Most of us find it very difficult to want “Heaven” at all – except in so far as “Heaven” means meeting again our friends who have died. One reason for this difficulty is that we have not been trained: our whole education tends to fix our minds on this world. Another reason is that when the real want for Heaven is present in us, we do not recognise it. Most people, if they had really learned to look into their own hearts, would know that they do want, and want acutely, something that cannot be had in this world. There are all sorts of things in this world that offer to give it to you, but they never quite keep their promise.”
    Having read this and pondered it – do read his book.

    St Paul in his letter to the Colossians 3:1-4 says this:
    “Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.”
    I pray this will become true for all of us.
    God bless all.

    • Richard Connell says:

      From your quote: “Most people, if they had really learned to look into their own hearts, would know that they do want, and want acutely, something that cannot be had in this world.”–C. S. Lewis–that says it very well.

  3. Brian Crowe says:

    Loved this video! Thanks for all your posts, Monsignor!