A meditation of Paolo Sottopietra on Paradise, the “forever” of heaven that is already prepared for us during our earthly life.

The rationalism of our time has weakened our capacity to concretely imagine Paradise, the last port of our lives. Eternity appears to be the absence of time. The only images that come to our aid are blinding lights, that blur all figures and contours, or of thin air covered in clouds. We have a hard time, for this reason, seeing that our present has a connection with the forever of Heaven, and so we are less willing to face the effort of the daily fight for the truth of ourselves and of the world in which we live. In order to fight, we must be convinced that our actions and the choices we make truly count.

But eternity is not an empty atmosphere. After his resurrection, Jesus let Thomas touch his wounds, showing that He had entered into eternity with the marks of the Passion, which express his love for all men. This is true for us as well. In the same way, our love for others will be preserved forever, in all of its concreteness. In Paradise, the physical signs of our life will remain, transfigured, as a permanent and beautiful testimony of what happened in time, on earth. The signs of our truest decisions, of our purest joys and of the suffering that we will have faced will remain. The relationships with the persons most dear to us will remain, and the contents of our dialogues with friends, as well as the contents of our prayer.

In a word, Paradise we will not begin from scratch. The words pronounced in front of God, the requests that we will have made to Him, the promises, the forgiveness asked and received, the gratitude we will have expressed, the wonder for his closeness, and the effort we will have offered to Him, the sacrifices made, the familiarity with the saints we will have sought, both will those known on earth and with those invoked in Heaven, the confidence we will have enjoyed with those closest to us, the help asked for and received from them: all of this will not be cancelled. On the contrary, Paradise is a place of relationship.

There is no moment that does not weigh upon us with the heft of centuries, wrote Ada Negri in a beautiful poem entitled “Time”, and in every heartbeat life has the tremendous measure of the eternal. But if this is the true weight of all that we live, then working, building, suffering, rejoicing, enjoying the communion with our brothers, our friends, and with God, all of this will have meaning. I saw France, from the snow to the sea, and on the plate of the scale I weighed my life, exalted Joan of Arc in a song of Francesco De Gregori that contemplates her mission. If Heaven is concrete, then God has truly thrown open the word and all of history before us. That I exist or not, therefore, is not indifferent. That I live will all of my conscience, that I serve with all of my creativity, that I say my “Yes” with all of myself or not, to whatever God asks of me in this moment, even if it was infinitely small and hidden from the eyes of men, is not indifferent. The moment that we find ourselves in weighs upon destiny of the world.

And this is why I feel passion bursting within me that you as well, my brother or sister, close or far away, who I may know or not, might reach with me that place where we are destined to live forever. This is why it is not indifferent for me that you exist or not, that you can know the usefulness of your present life, so that, tomorrow,  I might be able to enjoy your company in Paradise.

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