God at home in us

“Whoever loves me will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our dwelling with him.” Certainly one of the most beautiful passages in the gospel, this verse expresses in a most intimate way the theme of divine indwelling. To those who love him, Jesus gives assurance that the Father and he will make their “home” in them.

There was a time in my life when I felt terribly down. Someone falsely accused me of something which deeply polarized our clergy. The pain and paranoia inflicted on me severely affected my relationships and ministry until I realized that I might be overreacting to the situation.

My accuser was only one while the rest of the community and God himself were on the side of truth. The accusation was like the proverbial fly in the ointment, and I was allowing my life to become miserable and be spoiled by one inconvenient bug.

I was further enlightened when one of our priests invited me to be more aware of God’s love which totally embraces me. Everything I experience in life is God’s way of saying, “I love you,” from the daily sunshine or the seasonal rain I enjoy to the relationships I cherish. Even my sufferings are expressions of God’s personal love for me.

The thought that God’s love constantly surrounds us is reassuring enough. But today’s passage confirming that Jesus and the Father live in us is simply mind-blowing. God has made his home in us. All he asks is that we be at home with him. This awareness is what ultimately gave me peace during those difficult moments.

On the eve of his death and return to the Father, Jesus gives his disciples his peace as his parting gift. “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give it to you.” What is the peace of Jesus which is different from the peace of the world?

The peace of Jesus is not founded on fear or intimidation of a superior force or military power.
It does not consist in the absence of war or conflict. On the contrary the peace of Jesus consists in a presence – the presence of God. Where God is, there is peace. When God lives in us and rules our life, his kingdom is established, which is “a kingdom of truth and life, a kingdom of holiness and grace, a kingdom of justice, love, and peace.” (Preface of Christ the King)

Peace is a gift, and like all gifts, it is also a task. How can I receive the gift of Christ’s peace? The gospel reading tells us: by loving Jesus which we prove by keeping his word. What is his word? His commandment to love one another, as he loved us.
Thus, the essence of peace is love which comes from Jesus and the Father dwelling in us and overflows in our love for others.

It is clear then that unless we love we cannot have peace. Unless we love as Jesus loves we cannot have his peace – the true peace. Such love demands that we forgive our enemies, do good to those who hate us, reach out to the unlovable, die to self that others may live… which is simply beyond us. We need a love greater than our human heart can give.

That is why in the same gospel Jesus assures us of the Holy Spirit whom the Father will send to be our Helper. The Spirit will remind us of Jesus’ teaching and teach us how to live it. More importantly, he will empower us to love as Jesus loves since he is “God’s [own] love poured out into our hearts. (Rm 5:5)*

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