What is your life’s destination? For some people the answer to this question is to live a long and fulfilled life. For others, it may be to earn lots of money to leave for their children or to leave some other form of legacy of achievement or, more simply perhaps, to leave the world a slightly better place than they found it. What about us? Where are we try to get to in our life? In the Gospel reading assigned for this week, Jesus prays for all his followers that they may know eternal life with the only true God. Eternal life is not seen as only a future destination but also as a present experience. Our destination is that we might move closer towards, and deeper into, the Father’s presence.
Our human response to this destination is, where is it? Jesus doesn’t give a geographical place. All people at the time believed God was above the sky. That is why the Gospel account starts with Jesus looking up to heaven. It is why Luke’s account of the ascension in the book of Acts has Jesus being taken up into the sky and disappearing into a cloud. It is why the psalmist writes, “sing praises to him who rides the clouds.” Sensibly Jesus never tells the people that they were looking in the wrong place because these were all comforting and helpful images for people to hold at the time.
Similarly, Jesus never puts a time limit on when the journey to heaven will start and when it will end. Again, in our limited understanding we seek exact times for our journey to our ultimate destination. We are bound to our own concepts of time and space. In our New Testament reading, the Apostles want to know times when the kingdom of God will be established. Jesus’ response is that it is not for you to know. No doubt, Jesus could foresee problems if this sort of information was spread abroad.
In the Epistle reading, Peter spells out what is more important than knowing the time and place of our life’s journey. Peter says, be careful! The devil is prowling around. Endure trials and then, in his kindness God will call you to your eternal glory. That is your life’s destination.
New Testament reading for this week: Acts 1:6-14
Gospel reading for this week: John 17:1-11
Epistle reading for this week: 1 Peter 4:12-14; 5:6-11
Psalm for this week: 68:1-10, 32-5