The Gospel we preach is not one of gloom and despair but of glad tidings and great joy. The creed we hold teaches us that God is the creator of heaven and earth, the visible and the invisible. Our Gospel and our creed are in accord with the Psalmist when he says, “Sing joyfully to God all the earth. Serve the Lord with gladness. Come into His presence shouting for joy.” This is the Gospel that Christ came into the world to teach.
Our essential happiness in heaven consists of friendship and union with God. Is this not the privilege of all Christians who dwell upon the earth? In heaven we shall gaze upon Christ in the light of glory? True but is not God whom Christians contemplate through the light of faith, the same God? There is not difference except that what we see here obscurely by the light of faith, we shall see clearly face to face, by the light of glory. The aim of the Gospel is not to separate heaven from earth or earth from heaven, the object of the Gospel is to bring them together, unite them and make them one, to establish the kingdom of God, “upon earth as it is in heaven.”
Servant of God, Isaac Hecker took as his theme on New Year’s Day 1868, the traditional greeting, “Happy New Year” and asked his parish what they meant when they shared this wish with other people. In other words, when you wish someone happiness, what are you wishing for? What makes us happy?
Father Hecker begins by explaining that the Christian Gospel and creed are messages of joy and in them we can find the key to happiness. They teach that the relationship between God and humankind was broken due to sin. No matter how humankind might try, the chasm between God and man could not be breached by humankind. Into this chasm between heaven and earth, God has crossed over out of love for us and revealed himself to us in the person of Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ, the Son of God has reunited heaven and earth by his coming as man. Now it is possible to grown in relationship with God.
Father Hecker teaches that happiness essentially consists of union with God. This is now possible because God in Jesus Christ has restored the relationship between heaven and earth. Happiness is something we need to work at. We are unfinished works of God who live and move in the union of heaven and earth. Happiness comes from understanding our purpose in this world as channels of grace made possible in Jesus Christ.
Publishing and disseminating the writing of Servant of God Isaac Hecker is the work of the Office for Hecker’s Cause. Paulist Father Paul Robichaud CSP is the Postulator of the Cause of Father Hecker. His office is located at the Hecker Center in Washington, D.C.