Show me your God, that may believe in him
Recently, one of my beloved children, a Professor at the University of Alexandria, sent me an email about his daughter who asked him, "What is the afterlife like? What is the Kingdom of Heaven?" He responded by giving her a great example:
"That's like asking a man who was born blind to describe the characteristics of an object. Give him three pieces of paper cut into a circle, a triangle, and a rectangle. When he touches them, he will realize two things; first that these objects are made of paper, and second that they are a certain shape. Then, present him with pieces of wood in the shape of a sphere, a cube, and a pyramid. Again, when he touches them, he will recognize that the objects have three dimensions. After that, present him with objects made in different materials; soft, hard, rough, smooth, solid, or even liquid. When he touches each of them, he will discover their different shapes and substances.
However, try to ask him about the color of the objects and he won't be able to. Try to explain to him the different colors, he won't be able to perceive them. No matter how hard you try and how much time you spend with him, it won't matter because he simply does not have the gift of sight. The same goes for heaven and eternal life. We can never study them or sense them with our temporary, bodily senses. However, we can taste their beauty with the help of God's promises to us. Because we have a new nature in Christ, we have the ability to experience these things. The Word of God came and toob flesh so that as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly second Adam, our Lord Jesus Christ. Thus, we shall be like the angels of God, enjoying the heavenly life, and experiencing it with our spiritual senses."
This was practically experienced by St. Paul when he says, "[He has] raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places." (Ephesians 2:6) The apostle truly experienced what Christ said, "The Kingdom of God is within you." (Luke 17:21)
In the Old Testament, Solomon the wise said, "He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, He has put eternity in their hearts, except that no one can find out the work that God does from beginning to end." (Ecclesiastes 3:11) The Psalmist also said, "Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good." (Psalm 34:8) When we taste His goodness, we learn about our God, the creator of heaven and earth, and the giver of life through spiritual means and not by the bodily senses.
When St. John the beloved had the vision of the Day of the Lord, he spoke to us about what he saw in figurative language. What is heavenly cannot be described in human terms, nor can it be understood using the temporal body's senses. For this reason, Christ says, "Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the bingdom of God." (John 3:5) Heaven is the perfect experience of the presence of the Lord of Glory, the heavenly Jesus. That is why St. Paul says, "Flesh and blood cannot inherit the bingdom of God; nor does corruption inherit incorruption." (1 Corinthians 15:50)
Show Me Your Mind!
At the beginning of the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia, an atheist teacher held his glasses while asking his students, "What do you see?" They all responded, "Your glasses!" Pointing to a cup on his desk, he asked them, "And what is that?" "A glass of water!" they all cried out. Then, he told them, "You saw the glasses, and the glasses do exist. Everything you see does exist, but do you see God?" They said, "No." Replying to them, he said, "Then, we can conclude that God does not exist!" A young girl then looked at him and said, "Sir, I do not see your mind. So, I can then say that you do not have one!"
Show Me Your Soul!
Someone once asked St. Athanasius the Apostolic: "Show me your God, that I may believe in Him." St. Athanasius answered him: "Do you have a human soul? Show me your human soul, so that I make sure you have a rational soul different from other creatures like the plants and animals!"
The man answered, "Of course I have a human soul that I have never seen, nor do I know what it looks like.' So, St. Athanasius responded, "How then do you want to see God, while you are still in the world?!"
The Worms' Council!
One of the believers in Russia once wrote about a strange council of worms. As they were in the mud, the worms gathered together and asked about the dimensions of the world. One worm said, "I think the whole world is made up of black mud and is about 50 square feet." Another worm suggested, "No, I think it is about 75 square feet." They argued a lot, so a frog approached them asking the reason of their dispute. When they told it, the frog said, "Because you live in the mud and you cannot get out of it, you think that the world is all mud. But as for me, I always jump out of this mud and see a beautiful blue sky, green plants and humans living in houses!" The worms mocked the frog saying, "It must be crazy, telling us it's hallucinations!"
Later, one of the worms felt a plant stem in the mud, so it climbed the stem until it was out of the mud. But the sun scorched it, causing it to shrivel and dry up! So the worm fell back into the mud and told the others, "Yes, there is definitely a world outside this mud, but we cannot live in it." This symbolic story is very similar to our situation. Our human nature can never realize nor describe the heavenly life, no matter how intelligent we are. This is why St. Paul frequently talks about the new creation, which grants us to be walking in Christ Jesus (2 Corinthians 5:17, Colossians 2:6).
A Meeting Between Two Infants in One Womb
When there are twin babies in the womb of a mother, they definitely touch each other, but to what extent do they get to know one another? If you asked either of them how much they knew about their twin before being born, they would definitely answer, "I don't remember anything , .. about our relationship at that time!"
We are now all living in the womb of this world where we have relationships and different views. But, when we leave here and enter into the heavenly world, we will totally forget about all the hardships we faced in this world.
In heaven, we will no longer remember the times when we faced false accusations, oppression, injustice, sicknesses, or pain. On the contrary, we will live like the angels of God, in indescribable joy, that is full of glory.
We will see St. Mary in her great glory, and we will rejoice as if her glory is ours, with no envy whatsoever. In love, we will see Christ's glory reflected on all the saints who enjoy the heavenly life. We will never feel any sorrow, pain, tribulations, or bad memories, rather, we will enjoy what eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man (1 Corinthians 2:9).
The Sense of Fatherhood, Motherhood or Brotherhood
On one of the visits of Fr. Bishoy Kamel to one of the families in the church neighborhood, he found a mother grieving. When he asked her the reason of her grief, she said, "My daughter went out, and she is now with a young man who is not Christian!" So, he asked her, "did she ever tell you about her relationship with this young man?!" She answered, "No, but my motherly senses know that she is in a bad relationship."
After a while, the girl returned home and Fr. Bishoy sat with her privately and asked her, "Where were you?" The young girl responded, "Abouna, why do you ask? You never asked me a question like this before. You know me well and you know my love for God."
So, Fr. Bishoy told her about her mother's concerns. He was surprised to find out her mother's senses were right even though the girl had told her nothing.
What did the Church Fathers say about Heaven and the Lord of Heaven in our Lives?
Origen says, "The soul is moved by heavenly love and longing when, having clearly beheld the beauty and the fairness of the Word of God, it falls deeply in love with His loveliness and receives from the Word Himself a certain dart and wound of love ... "
St. John Chrysostom says, "I want you to beep your minds focused on these things at all times (Colossians 3:1). For these things liberate us from earth and lift us up to heaven"
St. Isaac the Syrian also says, "God opens the gates of heaven for every man at every stage of their lives as he departs to Him." And he says, "The ladder of the Kingdom is within you, hidden within your soul." Again, he says, "Dive deep into yourself away from sin, and then, you shall find the steps on which you can ascend."
Author: Fr. Tadros Y. Malaty
Translated by: Michael Stefanos, Yousteena Zaki, & Mary Abdelmessih