Nobody really knows what heaven will be like. Today’s first reading is a symbolic picture of heaven, but it doesn’t really help us to picture what it will be like. The reason is that no human words, not even the inspired words of Sacred Scripture, are adequate to represent what heaven really is in all of its magnificence.
One purpose of today’s first reading is to emphasise the holiness of God in whose presence we will live in heaven. Sometimes the word ‘holiness’ calls up images of some reality which is distant, remote and even slightly unappealing. And so I think it’s good for us today to think of holiness in terms of two words: perfection and amplitude.
God’s holiness is his perfection. If we come to understand something of goodness as we see it in other people, then we can begin to see that God’s goodness is without limit. If we have witnessed beauty in creation, then we have a notion of God’s beauty which is without flaw or blemish. And if we have experienced love, then we can understand about God’s love which will never fail.
God’s holiness is also amplitude. Now amplitude is an unusual word, one we don’t use very frequently nowadays. But we need an unusual word to approach the meaning of God’s holiness. Amplitude indicates a fullness and a richness. I remember when I was small my father had a radiogram – a huge piece of furniture the size of a coffin which housed a radio and a record player. One of the knobs on the front was for amplitude and when you turned it up the sound became rich and substantial. Now there is nothing small, petty, or stingy about God. He is the fullness of goodness, beauty and love. And he will share this fullness with us in heaven.
Now what I’ve said today doesn’t do any justice at all to the holiness of God. Heaven will far exceed any expectation we can possibly have and that the wonder of God is worth praying for, working for, and waiting for.