There was an old expression people always used on us. They’d say. “You have to take it on faith.” There are examples of that in both readings today.
In the Gospel John looked back over his wild career which was all geared toward introducing the Messiah. And yet, until just then, when Jesus waded out to him to be baptized, he had not known Jesus to see him. Amazed at his not having known Jesus, John said, “I did not know him.” And then, amazed that he hadn’t known him, he repeated, “I did not know him.”
Then, in the first reading, speaking of the afterlife, John said, “What we shall be has not yet been revealed.”
Living in this material world with these physical bodies, with our very limited intelligences and memories, we are incapable of comprehending a fully spiritual afterlife.
I recall a minister on TV describing the passage from this world to the next. Taking a sideways step, he said “It will be just like passing from here to there.” He then went on to describe joyous reunions with fiends.
I don’t think he had any reliable inside information. My cynical view of our knowledge of heaven has me picturing a very little bug crawling on my scalp. I figure that my chances of understanding heaven are no better than that little bug’s chances of understanding the thought processes at work under his six little feet.
I thank St. Paul for venturing to describe the afterlife. He wrote, “So is the resurrection from the dead. It is sown corruptible, it is raised incorruptible. It is sown dishonorable; it is raised glorious. It is sown weak, it is raised powerful. It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual one.”