The angel took me in spirit to a great, high mountain and showed me the holy city Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God.
It gleamed with the splendor of God.
Its radiance was like that of a precious stone, like jasper, clear as crystal....
I saw no temple in the city
for its temple is the Lord God almighty and the Lamb.
The city had no need of sun or moon to shine on it,
for the glory of God gave it light,
and its lamp was the Lamb.
R.G. Collingwood, an early 20th century Protestant theologian in his book Speculum Mentis, wrote,
...religion reached its climax in Christ and in doing so it ceased to be religion.Perhaps he was reflecting on Saint John's apocalyptic vision of the new Jerusalem, which has "no temple in the city for its temple is the Lord God almighty and the Lamb."
I can't quote it but I think even the Baltimore Catechism said there would be no need for sacraments or the Church in heaven. Those things will have passed away.
Certainly there will be no need for religion to evoke the presence of God; the Shekinah will be manifest in everyone there, in our communion with the saints and angels, Mary and Jesus; and in our at-home-ness with created matter. As Isaiah the prophet said, "the lamb will lie down with the lion, and the child will play by the cobra's den." Eating and drinking, song and dance and all the arts of celebration will express our gratitude in God's presence.
In the meanwhile we thank God for the religion that leads us to Christ although we are painfully aware of its limits. Christians have killed one another in the name of Christ. It has been used to prop governments with patriotic slogans like pro deo et patria ("for God and country.")
But religion makes a difference when Jesus and the Holy Spirit lead us through our rituals and reflections. He reminds us of this in today's gospel:
Whoever loves me will keep my word,and my Father will love him,and we will come to him and make our dwelling with him.
|Come and Meet the Friars weekend|
at Mount Saint Francis.
Religion gives shape and form to our relationships as our communion of friends and families and neighbors transcends its narrow limits. No two people agree on every religious notion -- he likes the rosary; she likes Bible study -- but their mutual regard leaps over that boundary easily. As Joseph and Lois Bird taught in the 1970's, "All marriages are mixed."
Our affection for one another, disciplined by penance and self-renunciation, opens a room for the Father and the Son and the Spirit to make a dwelling within us.