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February 3rd, 2012

Paradise : The Kingdom of God

Paradise Kingdom of God

Paradise is a name of pleasure and delight, for it signifies a garden, or most beautiful orchard, suitable both for recreation and amusement. In the book of Genesis this paradise of pleasure is not once named, when the terrestrial paradise is the subject of the discourse. But in the prophet Ezechiel speaking of the heavenly paradise, it is said of the chief angel who afterward fell and became the devil: “You were in the pleasures of the paradise of God.”

But since the Holy Scriptures mention nothing of Paradise, but that there were in it many trees and the fountain of living water, therefore it is my intention under the word “Paradise” to explain the joys and pleasures which the blessed possess in heaven. And this will be, unless I am deceived, a useful contemplation to excite our minds to seek and reflect upon the things above: and thus so to regulate our life, that when we depart hence, it may not be to sorrow and darkness, but by the divine assistance, to Eternal light and happiness.

All men, with few exceptions, are influenced more by pleasure, than by any thing else. And the Church in one of her prayers says, “There may our hearts be fixed, where our true joy is.” And first we shall consider what the Holy Scripture says of the heavenly Paradise, whence we shall prove that in it are true joys; then we shall endeavour to explain what these joys are: and lastly, by various reasons, or rather comparisons, we shall prove that these joys are far more excellent than we can either comprehend, or think, or even imagine.

First, then, the name of paradise signifies pleasure and delight, as we have already seen from the Book of Genesis. And that there is a Paradise in heaven, Ezechiel testifies. Our Lord also testifies in the gospel, when he said to the thief hanging by him: “This day thou shalt be with me in paradise”

He used the word paradise for the kingdom of God, and its essential beatitude: for the good thief had said, “ Lord, remember me when thou shalt come into thy kingdom.” St. Paul testifies in his second Epistle to the Corinthians, where he says, “ I know a man in Christ such a one rapt even to the third heaven, and was caught up into paradise.”

St. John testifies in his Apocalypse, where he introduces the Lord thus speaking: “ To him that overcomes I will give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the paradise of my God.” From these passages it is evident, that the region of the “blessed” is a place of happiness and delight. And when our Lord says to the good and faithful servant, “Enter thou into the joy of thy Lord” does He not most clearly declare, that the house or city of God is a place of joy, to which good and faithful servants are admitted when they leave this world?

Our Lord in many places compares the kingdom of heaven to a supper, as we read in St. Luke, where it is said: “ A man made a great supper,” And again, “I dispose to you, as my Father hath disposed to me, a kingdom: that you may eat and drink at my table, in my kingdom.” And when likewise we are told in the Apocalypse, “Blessed are they that are called to the marriage supper of the Lamb.”

The Scripture, by the figure of the supper, certainly points out the pleasure and delight of the heavenly paradise; unless some one assert, that there is no pleasure in the sense of taste. In addition to these passages, the kingdom of God both in the Gospels and the Apocalypse is compared to royal nuptials: as we learn from the parable of the king, who made a marriage for his son; and from the parable of the wise and foolish virgins, of whom the wise went with the bridegroom to the marriage; but the foolish virgins remained without.

The same also is found in the Apocalypse, where many things are said of the “marriage supper of the Lamb” celebrated with great magnificence in the kingdom of heaven. Now the beatitude of the saints may be compared to a royal marriage, because on such occasions every variety of pleasure is experienced and enjoyed. But of this we shall treat in the following Book.

Also read: Heaven Our Final Destination

In fine, in the Apocalypse St. John sees a choir of virgins who followed the Lamb wheresoever He goes, and sang a new canticle which no one else could sing. Which passage St. Augustine explains in his Book on “Holy Virginity” as having relation to certain joys and holy pleasures, which virgins alone will enjoy. Thus it is manifest, that in our heavenly kingdom and city, there are many true joys amid most abundant pleasures.

– – – written by St. Robert Bellarmine

September 6th, 2010

Investments In The Bank Of Paradise

Investments in Paradise

Each time there is an act of mercy towards a fellow human from our side, it results in a deposit in our account in heaven and each time we deny mercy to a fellow human it results in a withdrawal and decrease of net worth of our account in heaven. Eventually, on the day of reckoning when Jesus takes stock of our account, if it runs into a negative balance, we run the risk of losing our place in heaven.

In Matthew 6: 19 –21, Jesus says  – “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust consume and where thieves break in and steal; but store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consumes and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also”.

Is it wrong to be rich?

Why does Jesus say in Matthew 19: 23, “truly I tell you, it will be hard for a rich person to enter the kingdom of heaven”? Is it because being rich is a sin or a crime? Definitely not, Jesus is not averse to a person being rich but what concerns him is our attitude towards money and possessions. Abraham and Job two of the most righteous men that we come across in the Bible were blessed with an abundance of wealth and possessions. Despite being very rich they placed their life firmly in God and gave him priority over every other person or possession in their lives.

Jesus wants us to be selfless in our use of wealth and possessions. At the end of the parable of the rich fool in Luke 12: 21, Jesus tells us what the right attitude towards wealth is – “So it is with those who store up treasures for themselves but are not rich towards God.”

How does one become rich towards God?
(1) By being selfless and
(2) By investing in the Lord’s real estate (his most cherished properties) – the meek, strangers and foes.

Acts of mercy

On the day of reckoning what do we want Jesus to be – a Judge or a Savior?

The parable of the wicked servant in Matthew chapter 18 verses 23-35 highlights the difference in the approach of a Savior and that of a Judge. While the Judge goes strictly by the law a Savior is always merciful. Verses 32-34 tell us how the Savior becomes a Judge. “Then his Lord summoned him and said to him, you wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you besought me; and should not you have had mercy on your fellow servant, as I had mercy on you? And in anger his Lord delivered him to the jailers, till he should pay all his debt”.

What should we then do to have Jesus as our Savior? Live Matthew chapter 25 verses 35, 36. “For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me”.

– – – written by L.A. Lajan Miranda

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