There are many things that make the Four Corners area of the southwestern United States a wonderful place. Among the most powerful is the constant presence of artifacts from the past: human-made, physical remnants of the Anasazi peoples who lived there long ago. Their glorious, advanced culture is never far from view, seen in the dwellings whose ruins are everywhere and found in the beautiful pieces of pottery that appear so often as you walk across the land. These artifacts announce a presence that fills the imagination with what once was. It is a presence that makes you think hard about the strong and the weak of life and the larger destiny of creation in the heart and mind of a just and—thankfully—merciful God.
As those who have received the gospel of Jesus, we hold both the promise of a World to Come and its presence among us now. This is a different kind of presence, glorious, thought-provoking and full of the imagination that gives birth to new life. We see the World to Come, says the elder St. John Chrysostom, in the Eucharist and in the love of neighbour. These are among us as artifacts of the future, God’s future. In them we taste, feel, and see Jesus and the life that will be. First seen by those who witnessed the resurrection of Jesus, this life that will be is now seen in the love that is poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us (Romans 5:5).
After you live in the Four Corners for a while, you learn where to find the best places to discover ancient artifacts. In the same way, as we follow Jesus in discipleship, we begin to learn where to find the artifacts of the World to Come. Despite what we might expect from our experience in the worldwide culture of money, the truly wonderful artifacts of life, the artifacts of the future, are found far away from the things that are bound to the values of this world. Look for the artifacts of the future among the poor, those in prison, those on the streets and those on their sick bed. When we carry the love of Jesus, it is in these places that we most clearly handle the first physical and spiritual sensations of a new heaven and a new earth.