What are the wonders of this world?
A group of students at one school, offered this list as the present “Seven Wonders of the World”: 1. Egypt’s Great Pyramids 2. Taj Mahal 3. Grand Canyon 4. Panama Canal 5. Empire State Building 6. St. Peter’s Basilica 7. China’s Great Wall.
One lone student offered her own list: 1. to see 2. to hear 3. to touch 4. to taste 5. to feel 6 to laugh 7. to love. How’s that for creativity?
But what about the wonders of the “next” world?
One wonder is that of eternity. In the book of the prophet Daniel, we hear about the great prince, Michael, who is the guardian of the people. More, we are told that we shall all live forever. In other words, we are made for eternity and “this life is not conclusion.” But the prophet Daniel points out that there are two types of existence after this earthly life is over — everlasting horror and disgrace for those who turn from God and God’s way, and everlasting splendor for those who do God’s will. Those who do God’s bidding will be like the stars and shine forever.
A second wonder of the “next” world is the Lord Jesus. In the book of Hebrews, the author tells how Jesus offered one sacrifice for the forgiveness of sins. And now he sits at God’s right hand and we are told elsewhere, he intercedes for us, those who are still on our pilgrim journey. What a consolation it is to have the certitude that at every moment Christ is sustaining, supporting and encouraging us as we struggle with our daily concerns. That same Christ longs to dwell within us and act through us in the ongoing redemption of the world. Truly, this is a wonder.
A third wonder of the “next” world: glory! Mark’s Gospel relates how the Son of Man will come with great power and glory at the end of this world. In what does that wonder of glory consist? It would seem to be the fullness of light, life and love, that is, the mystery of grace. Already on our earthly journey we experience patches of glory: the light in the eye of a newborn baby; the life we experience in using our gifts; the love that expands our hearts. But it is always piecemeal; there are always patches here on earth of darkness, death and indifference.
And to round out our “seven wonders” how about “the communion of saints,” “silent music,” “freedom from fear” and the “grace of presence.” Perhaps the lone student was right. Both the seven wonders of this world and the next are the same: seeing, hearing, touching, tasting, feeling, laughing and loving.
Questions for reflection
1. What is your understanding of the next world?
2. List the wonders of your world?
3. What does eternity mean to you?
Bishop Morneau is the auxiliary bishop of the Green Bay Diocese and pastor of Resurrection Parish in Allouez.