Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of February 5, 2007
Set out for New Jerusalem, Collins says in homily
Heavenly kingdom already present in this world, he says
"Heaven begins on earth, in our daily lives."
Archbishop Thomas Collins
By GLEN ARGAN
Michael Power, the first of Toronto's 12 bishops, died in 1847 at age 43. Power spent the last year of his life serving immigrants who had been dumped on the Toronto waterfront.
"He knew where he was going and he knew how to get there," Archbishop Thomas Collins said in the homily at the Jan. 30 Mass installing him as Power's most recent successor.
"Day after day he heroically ministered to the sick and dying in Toronto, but always aware of the New Jerusalem that is the destination of both flock and shepherd, and he himself became infected and died."
The New Jerusalem - God's heavenly kingdom - is not just a future goal. It is already present in this world, Collins told the congregation in St. Michael's Cathedral. "Jacob's ladder is pitched betwixt heaven and Yonge Street."
Collins said outside the cathedral lie many theatres. "The performers and the audience spend a relatively brief time within them, and then at the end of the performance leave the world of illusion and go through the exit doors into the world in which they really live - Toronto."
But that external world is itself dependent on an even greater reality, he said. When we go through "the doorway marked death" we find the real world that is the reference point for all that we do in our brief life on earth.
The New Jerusalem is ahead in time. "We do not fully share in the community of shalom where people live as they are meant to - in peace with God and one another."
But neither is the New Jerusalem simply a future goal, he continued. It is already present. "Heaven begins on earth, in our daily lives, when we live in generous love, in the image of the Blessed Trinity, in the imitation of Christ."
Collins urged the congregation to meditate on the heavenly Jerusalem so as to live in generous love in this world. As disciples of the risen Lord, we must act accordingly.
"If we have really seen that glory . . . then we must not live as if we had not, as if we were caught in the rut of mediocrity."
Those who have meditated on God's glory must be guided by that vision.
They must, first, strive to bring greater social justice and the culture of life into our world.
Second, life within the Church, he said, "should reflect the heavenly city." It must have the vision of "a stewardship parish community" in which each disciple uses his or her gifts to make the community one of generous love.
Third, disciples must serve as loyal citizens of the earthly states in which they live, all the time realizing "no earthly state can claim absolute authority."
Fourth, Christians must live morally upright lives, loving both God and neighbour. To do that, we must repent. "For each of us, the pathway to Jerusalem lies through the confessional."
Finally, each disciple needs to "be refreshed with the vision and the experience of the realm of glory." Until we see God face to face, "the doorway to the New Jerusalem is the liturgy."