for heaven's sake
"As you well know, we have our citizenship in heaven; it is from there that we eagerly await the coming of our Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ." —Philippians 3:20
This reading from Paul's letter to the Philippians is often used at funeral liturgies. Families take comfort in the hope of their loved one being a "citizen of heaven." This reading is not only a good one to die with, it is truly one to live each day of our lives. Realizing that our true home is in heaven shows us how we should live our lives right now.
The great saints and spiritual writers of the centuries refer to this holy way of living as "detachment." By not allowing undue affection for created things, detachment keeps our eyes focused on heaven. "Beloved, you are strangers and in exile; hence I urge you not to indulge your carnal desires. By their nature they wage war on the soul" (1 Pt 2:11).
While everything God created is good (Gn 1:31), "no man can serve two masters. He will either hate one and love the other or be attentive to one and despise the other" (Mt 6:24). Detachment lets us follow God in total freedom. The Bible and Church history are filled with examples of saints who joyfully gave up houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or lands (Mt 19:29).
Focusing on our heavenly citizenship is a great way to die. Yet being detached from creatures so as to more closely follow the Creator is an even greater way to live.
Prayer: Father, remove from my life anything that keeps me from totally following You.
Promise: Jesus "will give a new form to this lowly body of ours and remake it according to the pattern of His glorified body." —Phil 3:21
Praise: Losing both house and job spurred James to detach from material things and focus on the things of heaven.
Reference: (This teaching was submitted by a member of our editorial team.)
Rescript: †Reverend Joseph R. Binzer, Vicar General of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, April 6, 2010
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