When teaching college students I have frequently been asked this question. Jesus gives us the answer in today’s reading. In Mark 12, Jesus has a encounter with the Sadducees who do not believe in the resurrection from the dead. In response to a absurd fictional scenario, Jesus replies,
Are you not misled because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God? When they rise from the dead, they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but they are like the angels in heaven. (Mark 12:24-25)
In his second encyclical, Pope Benedict XVI proposes a similar distortion;
But then the question arises: do we really want this—to live eternally? Perhaps many people reject the faith today simply because they do not find the prospect of eternal life attractive. What they desire is not eternal life at all, but this present life, for which faith in eternal life seems something of an impediment. (Spe Salvi 10).
Many people today have a very distorted picture of Heaven. They are afraid that Heaven might be boring or that heavenly existence might leave out some important earthly pleasure or attachment they personally value here on earth. We must remember that the God who created the earth and all that is in it and declared it to be “very good” (Genesis 1:31) is the same God who created Heaven. Simply being in the presence of God will be the fulfillment of every desire. We will not be missing any earthly thing. St. John tells us in the new heaven and the new earth God “will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there shall be no more death or mourning, wailing or pain” (Revelation 21:4).
Having said this, must we view Heaven as an other worldly experience with no continuity to our present life? Is heaven a kind of eternal choir practice among the clouds? First it must be recalled that we will have bodily existence in Heaven and that if we take hints from Jesus resurrected appearance we may still eat and have a social existence (Luke 24:42). There is another interesting note in the book of Revelation Chapter 21 were we are told about the New Jerusalem. We are told that the kings of the earth will bring in their treasure into the heavenly city and that “the treasure and wealth of the nations will be brought there” (Revelation 21:26). Rather than suggesting that God will make all things new, I think this suggests that he will make new all things. Rather than beginning creation over with a blank slate, God will remake creation with a continuity to what is holy in the previous creation. Obviously there won’t be complete continuity, but I don’t think we need to think of eternity as having no correspondence to our current earthly realty. As St. Therese of Avila is reputed to have jokingly said, “God and chocolate is better than just God.” Of one think I am certain, Heaven will not be boring!