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 CNS Story:

POPE-HEAVEN Apr-26-2013 (480 words) xxxi

Christian life is a time to prepare to enjoy heaven, pope says

(CNS/Paul Haring)

By Cindy Wooden
Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The Christian life is about allowing Jesus and the Holy Spirit to prepare each person to truly see and enjoy the beauty of eternal life, Pope Francis said in a morning Mass homily.

Some may say, "'But, Father, I see well. I don't need glasses.' But that's a different type of vision," he said April 26. "Think about those who suffer from cataracts and need an operation. They see, but after the procedure, what do they say? 'I never thought I could see like this.'"

In the same way, Pope Francis said, people's eyes "need to be prepared to see the marvelous face of Jesus" and their hearts need to be prepared "to love, to love more."

Members of the Vatican police and fire department, staff from the Vatican labor office and employees from the Vatican printing press joined the pope for the Mass in the chapel of the Domus Sanctae Marthae, where the pope lives.

In his homily, Pope Francis focused on the Gospel reading from the 14th chapter of John, in which Jesus tells the disciples he is about to die, but he will go to heaven and prepare a place for them.

Jesus tells them, "Do not let your hearts be troubled." The pope said, "These words of Jesus are beautiful," he speaks to them as a friend and tries to reassure them when they realize things are not going as they hoped.

"The music of these words of Jesus is the attitude of a pastor," the pope said. Jesus tells the disciples to have faith and know that he will always take care of them.

And like "an engineer or an architect he tells them what he's going to go do: 'I am going to prepare a place for you; in my Father's house there are many dwelling places,'" the pope said.

But Jesus is not going to "rent us a room up there," the pope said. By saying he will prepare a place in heaven, he means he will prepare his followers to enjoy heaven, "to see, to hear, to understand the beauty of that which awaits us, that homeland to which we are journeying."

Through the gifts and the trials of life, the pope said, Jesus is preparing his followers for heaven.

"The journey of life is a journey of preparation," he said. "Sometimes the Lord must work quickly, like he did with the good thief (on the cross). He had only a few minutes to prepare him and he did."

But for most people, the preparation period lasts decades, Pope Francis said. "We must let him prepare our hearts, our eyes, our ears for our homeland."

"Being prepared for heaven means starting to see it from afar," he said, and that requires prayer, courage and the humility to allow the Lord to work in one's life.


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