...now I am coming to you.
I speak this in the world
so that they may share my joy completely.
"...he went to heaven," Saint Peter says of Jesus in his First Letter (3:22 NAB). That's how we explain death to children when we explain the passing of grandparents, neighbors or pets. They're gone; we will not see them again, they went to heaven.
Always there is that other doctrine that denies heaven, that sees nothing beyond death. It offers no more consolation than a prison door or a firing squad. How could we comfort children with such a teaching?
No, we cling to hope for some kind of unimaginable future when the torn fabric of families, churches, neighborhoods and friends will be rewoven with affection and love.
Facing death, Jesus assured his disciples they would share his joy completely. In the meanwhile we have his prayer for us, and his Holy Spirit, which is a "down payment" or first installment of the glory we expect:
(you) were sealed with the promised holy Spirit, which is the first installment of our inheritance toward redemption as God’s possession, to the praise of his glory. (Ephesians 1:13-14)
Our vision of life always includes this other dimension, invisible to most, which clearly sees Jesus Christ seated at God's right hand.
Our faith is rooted in the resurrection of Jesus which was witnessed by trusted members of our own Church. There were several appearances; and though the stories are not consistent, their testimony is. Admittedly, we cannot amass all the evidence into a proven fact. The tomb was empty, no body was ever found, rumors contradicted the story. But not many truths in life can be scientifically demonstrated. Those who claim they live only by "the facts" are talking through their hats.
We have apostolic testimony, we have the Holy Spirit, we have the "proven" track record of heroic good works which have been amassed throughout the centuries, throughout the world, by Jesus' disciples. We choose to believe, the Spirit gives us confidence and we practice courageous generosity daily -- because we know the Risen Lord at the Father's right hand is watching, guiding and guarding us.
Each one of us has, at times, doubted; and we've seen where it led. We were quarrelsome, suspicious, fearful and anxious. We may have suffered moral injury; the return was long and arduous. Some of us found relief in alcohol, drug abuse and other foolishness. Life made no sense; we knew we deserved better.
Returned to the Lord and faith, grateful for surviving where many perished, we share his joy completely.