We Will Make Our Dwelling With Him by Rev. Jack Peterson
Reprinted with permission of "The Arlington Catholic Herald"
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John wrote to show that Christ was
the Messiah, the Divine Son of God.
Jesus said to his disciples: "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. Whoever does not love me does not keep my words; yet the word you hear is not mine but that of the Father who sent me. "I have told you this while I am with you. The Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything and remind you of all that I told you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give it to you. Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid. You heard me tell you, 'I am going away and I will come back to you.' If you loved me, you would rejoice that I am going to the Father, for the Father is greater than I. And now I have told you this before it happens, so that when it happens you may believe."
This week I have been privileged to be on retreat at the Loyola Retreat Center in Faulkner, Md. It is a gorgeous site for a retreat, resting on a cliff that offers a magnificent, panoramic view of the Potomac River. Spring is in full bloom here, and I have been smacked in the face with the majesty and wonder of God. The beauty and power of God's creative hand is evident here every time you open your eyes and your ears.
The large expanse of river soothes the soul, a resident bald eagle catches the wind and soars in search of local delicacies, the young leaves on the trees rustle with joy in the wind and the sun dances off the water as it heads west for the the night. My first night here, I sat and watched a marvelous drama in the sky as evening turned to night. The sun slowly disappeared and the clouds reflected brilliant colors. Then, out came the stars in full force, and I was made to ponder the great bodies and distances present in the heavens. The majesty of God has been proclaimed from the cliff tops this week.
Our Gospel for the Sixth Sunday of Easter invites us to wrestle with another mystery equally as mesmerizing to the eyes of faith as the beauty of God's creation. At the Last Supper, Jesus, as the Good Shepherd preparing the leaders of His flock, says to the Apostles: "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" (John 14:23). Wow! The same almighty God who fashioned the heavens and the earth, the same Father who gave the rivers, the birds, the trees and the stars their place in this universe, also chose to love my personally and make a dwelling place in my heart. This is the mystery of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, the gift of Pentecost, the result of baptism and confirmation. The greatness and majesty of God, so obvious in creation, is rivaled by His promise to enter into a personal union with you and me. God is great!
The Easter mysteries we are celebrating for 50 days make this promise possible. We have been redeemed by the passion, death and resurrection of Christ. Our sins have been forgiven. The Spirit of Christ enters our hearts and cleanses them with the fire of His love. He prepares our heart and expands it, making room for God to dwell with us. This is great news!
When we, by God's grace, come to understand and accept this truth of our faith, our lives are transformed. We receive a host of gifts from the Father. Among them is the gift of peace. It is no coincidence that Jesus says one verse later in John's Gospel, "Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give it to you." With God not just by our side, but actually making a home in us, we know deep in our hearts that we are loved, that God is here in my world, that He cares with the tender concern of a Father and that we need not fear. God gives a peace that the world does not give. It is a most precious gift.
As I finish this reflection, a storm has arrived. Thunder is reverberating off the river, the eagle has taken shelter, the young leaves do not seem so joyful and the sun is hiding. But God is here, so close that it is hard to imagine. His presence gives strength to face this storm and every storm in my life. His love is amazing and His peace is irreplaceable. "Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid" (Jn 14:27).
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