An unfailing Alleluia

Why will they be happy there? What will they have? What will they do? What they will have Ive already said: Happy are those who dwell in your house. [Ps 83:5]... They will possess the heavenly Jerusalem without being confined, without being pressed, without boundaries dividing them from each other. All will possess it, and each will possess the whole....And what will they do there? After all, the mother of all human activities is necessity... Tell me what they will do there since I dont see any needs that would move me to act. That I am now speaking and preaching is out of necessity. Do you think there will be preaching there, the kind that teaches the ignorant and reminds the forgetful? Will the Gospel be recited there where the very Word of God is being contemplated? The Psalmist whose desires and sighs express our desires and sighs has told us what they will have in that sighed-for homeland: Blessed are they who dwell in your house; well, then, let him tell us what they will do there: For ever will they praise you. Our whole employment then will be an unfailing Alleluia. [Hoc erit totum negotium nostrum, sine defectu Alleluia.]And dont think that you will get tired of it, as you can happen now if you do it for a long while until some need calls you from this joy.... When death has been swallowed up in victory, when this mortal has put on immortality, and this corruptible has put on incorruption, no one will say, "Ive been standing so long!" No one will say, "Ive been fasting so long!" No one will say, "Ive been keeping vigil so long!" There will be great steadiness there, and the very immortality of our body will be caught up in the contemplation of God. If the word I am giving to you can keep your frail flesh standing for so long, what will that joy do! How it will change us! For we shall be like him because we shall see him as he is (1 Jn 3:2). If we shall be like him, how shall we grow weak? To what could we be turned aside? Dont worry, then, the praise of God, the love of God, will not cloy us. If your love were to fail, your praise would fail. But if your love will be eternal because that beautycan never cloy [insatiabilis pulchritudo], dont be afraid that you will not be able always to praise the one whom you will be able to love always. Blessed are those who dwell in your house; for ever will they praise you. Let us desire this life (Augustine, In Ps 83, 8; PL 37:1061-63)

Rev. Joseph A. Komonchak, professor emeritus of the School of Theology and Religious Studies at the Catholic University of America, is a retired priest of the Archdiocese of New York.

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