Saturday, May 1, 2010

God's Dwelling

(5th Sunday of Easter, C)

In a very real way, brothers and sisters, the scriptures we hear today describe the joyful fulfillment of everything we have been celebrating and meditating upon since Christmas. At Christmas we rejoiced in the Word made flesh, in Emmanuel, ‘God with us.’ In the gospel today Jesus brings out for us the full implication of ‘God with us,’ that we should be able to love one another with the very love with which God has loved us first. That’s the privilege and joy, the mission and the challenge, of being a Christian after all: to be a little home, a little dwelling for the love of God in the world.

But before we get to all that, I think we as Christians always need to step back and remind ourselves what we really mean by ‘love.’ The world we live in is sometimes very confused about this. Greeting cards, sitcoms, those silly wedding shows, the increasing normalization of pornography; all of these things confuse our sense of love. To love someone is first of all not about our feelings, although it might include our passion. It does not necessarily depend on whether we like someone, or even appreciate them. To love someone in the spiritual sense simply means that we desire the best for that person, and organize our behavior toward them in light of that desire. It just means that I want the best happiness and flourishing for your soul, and I’m going to relate to you out of that desire.

This is exactly what the love of God is like. God is, after all, a dynamic, passionate Desire for the good, blessing, and flourishing of His creatures. The Word of God became flesh and dwelt among us so that we might not only know about this love, but that we might know it, as we say, in the ‘biblical sense,’ as something which has come to penetrate and dwell within us. After all, this is what we celebrate in Holy Communion; that the love of God in Jesus Christ should make a home in our bodies and our lives.

By our baptism into the death and resurrection of Christ, and our communion with his humanity here at Mass, the whole love of God comes to dwell in us and empowers us to love each other with God’s own love. Those who consent to this blessing and plan of God in Christ become that new heaven and new earth, the New Jerusalem that John the Seer sees coming out of heaven in the reading from Revelation today. We form that new city which is also, by the way, the Kingdom of God.

Now, perhaps it’s something we don’t always think about, that our Christian life consists in loving our neighbor with the love of God dwelling within us. But this too is important. God is a very humble character. God is happy to dwell within us as our love for each other, without having to make a big deal about his Presence. But He is there. He is the Spirit of desire for the good of one another that dwells in our hearts. “Behold, God’s dwelling is with the human race.” This is the joyful good news that comes from the throne of God as the New Jerusalem appears. This is the payoff and the fulfillment of everything in our faith. God, in his sublime humility, decides that his home will be our little hearts. It is there that his Love dwells, reaching out in divine passion for the salvation of the world.

1 comment:

blogmeister said...

Your story of your Mother teaching you as a child to observe others was a great connection of the Gospel to our funny everyday lives. But when you say that we are to "love one another with the very love with which God has loved us first", that crystallized for me an insight that I had approached but had not named.