A man was fast asleep when he was awakened by the soft heavenly glow of the Angel Gabriel. After the man was convinced that he was truly awake and not dreaming, Gabriel said to him: “I have come to you from the Lord of Hosts! What would you ask of Him? Inquire anything and you shall know!”

The man gave this a moment’s thought and then said, “All my life I’ve wanted to know the location of Paradise so that I may go there someday.”

The Angel took the man by the hand and they flew out the window, zig zagging around stars until finally landing outside in a modest looking garden. “Is this paradise?” the man asked.

Gabriel took the man by the hand and lead him to a small house and brought him inside. There they saw a few old men drinking coffee and studying the scriptures. “This,” said Gabriel, “is Paradise!” The man looked around confused.

Gabriel smiled. “I know why you are puzzled… see, you were under the impression that the saints are in Paradise while all this time Paradise has been in the Saints.”

This old Jewish legend teaches something very profound. While we do believe in the hope of Resurrection as Christians, we must not lose sight of the fact that eternal life begins in the here and now. Whenever we gather with one another to search scripture and pray, we are creating a little piece of paradise in our hearts where God can begin to dwell. A far better teacher than I once said “wherever two or more are gathered in my name, I am with them.” God calls us into loving community where the most ordinary of tasks, through his grace, is transformed into heavenly light.

Whoever has ears to hear, let them hear…

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