A Catholic Monthly Magazine

Who Are You Going To Vote For In Heaven?

Bill Farrelly

by Bill Farrelly

IN A MOMENT of madness the other day it struck me that heaven would have to be among the most undemocratic places on earth till I stopped mid-thought to remind myself just where earth is and just where heaven may or may not be – if you follow my drift.

What got me thinking about this was my pondering on some of the commandments and the struggle I occasionally have with the autocracy of God. (It’s OK, I am wearing my zap-proof nylons)
I began to imagine God sitting around a table with Gabriel and the rest of the crew as they formulated the decrees with which we are all familiar. I wondered whether there had been any to-ing and fro-ing or whether God had just drawn up the list and presented it as a fait accompli which, mulling it over, I imagine is what did happen. And no doubt Gabe and Co (having witnessed the exile of Lucifer and his cohorts to eternal damnation) had not the slightest wish to suggest any amendments. Well, would you have?
Seriously, do you ever feel that God comes on pretty heavy at times?

Consider the first commandment: We are commanded – not invited – to love God above all else, everyone and everything. (I should remind myself at this point that though we are commanded we have, paradoxically, a God-given choice: we may obey the commandment or may disobey it).
I have spoken elsewhere about the enormous difficulty, no, impossibility, I have of loving God more than my wife and children. Nothing has changed since then.
But a thought occurs to me. Once again, I think it is the language that is the problem. Others have observed before me that the English language (and perhaps many others) has too few words to express “love”. We love our families, we love our homes, we love our pets, we love our cars, we love our jobs, we love our hobbies and so on. Obviously those loves are all different. We love our families – if we are well adjusted – far more and on a far higher plane than any of those other examples.

Therefore, it seems to me, I probably can “love” God more than anyone else. I just need to find the right word to express that love.
On the other hand, if I am honest, I do not want to be with God more than I want to be with my family. Does that contradict my “loving” God above my family. Am I breaking the first commandment?

Perhaps the clue is in the second commandment, that I do not worship anyone but God. That makes sense. Is there a word that encapsulates worshipful love?
I do not worship my family – though I have been guilty in the past of putting my wife on a pedestal, thereby putting enormous stress on the relationship by expecting/demanding more than is humanly possible. The consequences of that naive and misplaced devotion are still being played out.

For the most part, the rest of the commandments no longer put me under great challenge. Which is not to suggest I have led a relatively blameless life. On the contrary.
But I have rarely had the desire, for example, to kill someone (although I have mentally put various people on the rack and conjured up even more creative tortures ending just short of death). I have never seriously been tempted to steal but I have broken the last commandment innumerable times. Envy and covetousness have long been a nemesis.
On further consideration, by my selfishness I have frequently stolen joy from others –
especially from my loved ones. Would that I could undo that.

Back to where I started. Of course there is no democracy in heaven. Like time, democracy is a concept that would have no meaning there. It serves us well in the meantime, though, and we who live in such freedom are blessed.


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