God has room for everyone
“Do not let your hearts be troubled” (John 14:1), said Jesus in the gospel text for this past Sunday.
There is nothing to worry about. Jesus will soon be departing, but the disciples will be okay. There is nothing to fear. God’s house has many rooms. Jesus tells them that there are many dwelling places. If it were not so, he would not have told them that he was going to prepare a place for them.
So often we hear these words of scripture at funerals. They provide comfort and hope to the grieving. Assurance is needed. We want to know that we will not be alone, that there will be a place for us. We want to know that we will all be together again.
Jesus says that he will come and take us (disciples) to himself. One cannot find this dwelling place on one’s own, or at least can get there by oneself. Jesus has to be involved. Jesus will come and take people to that place. There, he will be with them, offering ongoing companionship. Our beloved ones rest in the arms of Jesus.
Thomas, the disciple who later on expresses the need to touch the wounds of the risen Jesus (John 20:19-31), raises concern. Although Jesus has just told the disciples where he is going, this disciple does not get it.
Reflecting his puzzlement, Thomas says, “Lord, we do not know where you are going,” and then adds, “How can we know the way?” (John 14:114).
Both the journey and the future destination of Jesus are questionable. They don’t hit home.
And why should they? This does not seem to be the way the life of the Saviour should be going. Suffering and dying? Leave-taking? Preparing a place for people? Coming to them? That is not the traditional idea of a Messiah or of redemption. It is certainly not what the people have been taught.
In response to Thomas, Jesus says, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life” (John 14:6). For the writer of the Gospel of John, Jesus is the way to God. He shows disciples how to know God. Jesus shows us God; in particular, he reveals the embodied “flesh and blood” reality of God.
Following the above explanation by Jesus about his relationship with the Father, Philip, another disciple,comments: “Lord, show us the Father, and we will be satisfied ”( John 14:8). Jesus points out that he has been with them along time, and still they do not know what the connection is.
These questions and thoughts of the disciples are reasonable ones. Like anyone, the disciples wanttangible proof and further explanations. They don’t want to be in the dark.
If you do not believe Jesus, just believe in the works, Jesus suggests (John 14:11). That will be enough. By works he means signs such as changing water into wine, the healing of the official’s son, or the raising of Lazarus.
But, as the text this Sunday goes on to emphasize, the one who believes in Jesus will also be able to do the works that he does, even greater ones, because Jesus is going to the Father (John 14:12). In other words, Jesus’ departure will unleash power in the disciples to accomplish great things.
We might ask why we are reading a story like this during the 50 Days of Easter. It isn’t an encounter with the risen Christ, since, as the story in John goes, Jesus has not yet suffered and died. He is talking about where he will be going, and, if you read the entire farewell discourse, Jesus is taking much time to do so!
The Gospel of John is about witnessing to the presence of Jesus Christ, and coming to believe in him. The result of such belief is that one will then go and share that with others, offering his or her testimony. The writer is also trying to convince people of Jesus’ intimate connection with God; that he shows the glory of God, full of grace and truth; and to draw people into the deep presence of God.
We need Mother’s Day to bring to our attention the importance of mothers and mothering. We all have had am other at one time. Our mother brought us into the world. In most cases, our mothers have raised us and influenced our development, including spiritually. Most of our dads were at work. But our mothers were at home with us. That has changed somewhat in recent times, and continues to do so.
With the world, on Sunday, we celebratedthe positive aspects of mother hood, albeit highly commercialized, and we were grateful for our mothers. We remembered all of their love, kindness, and generosity; all of the special things that they did for us.
I also want to add, with my Jungian hat on, that how we have been “formed” by our mothers, or“mothered”by others, is grist for the Jungian mill, so to speak. Most of us have had both negative and positive mothering, and so what has been formed in us as we grew up is a rich opportunity for reflection and analysis. As we relate to these emotional dynamics( complexes) that are now part of our psyche (soul ), we will become more conscious of both the personal and archetypal (collective) dynamics of the mother image, now and throughout history.
Unlike the world regarding Mother’s Day, on that Sunday in church, as we usually do, we focused on God and Jesus Christ, along with the Holy Spirit. Through Jesus, we were baptized and born again; we accepted him as Lord and Saviour. As Christians, we have died to our old selves, and been raised to new life, becoming new persons in Christ. Having received the Holy Spirit, we have become part of the kingdom of God.
But there is something else we need to attend to.
What have you noticed about the gospel reading today (John 14:1-14), or the one last week about Jesus the Shepherd and gate keeper( John 10:19)?You can hear it in Sunday’ s Epistle reading (1 Peter 2:2-10). Specifically, what qualities of God and Jesus are emphasized? Through the words and images of Holy Scripture, what dynamics are attributed to their character?
Certainly, it is evident that God and Jesus, as Father and Son, have some very tender parts. The way they care for us is much like a mother would do. Think about other reading sin the Bible, as well as our hymns.
How do we picture (image) God? Who is God for you? Who is Jesus?
Reflect on how Jesus prepares a place for us, so that we can be with him. He also creates the way for us to understand the loving kindness, compassion, and faithfulness of God. He puts God before us, and with us, in human relationship.
Jesus brings God down to earth. Jesus shows us how deeply God loves us, and, through His relationship with us, how far God will go in showing us fullness of life.
With God, there is a place for us. There is a room for everyone.
In the heart of God throughout the universe, where Jesus resides, we are all at home. And that is not only after we die, but also—even more importantly—now,as we learn to know God through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Like the disciples before us, we have the opportunity to know how close Jesus and God are, and, through the Holy Spirit, experience that loving relationship for ourselves, as children of God (who is father and mother of us all), and brothers and sisters in Christ.
This is not an easy task in today’s world. It wasn’t for the disciples of old. Even being with Jesus, there were teachings they didn’t understand, including ones using metaphors, parables, and symbols. This past Sunday, the first lesson from Acts about Stephen( Acts 7:55-60 reminds us of what can take place for those who have a vision of God’ s kingdom of heaven, want to participate in it, and call others to such life. We have seen this throughout history in the saints and martyrs who have died standing up for their faith, what they believe, or standing up for concerns that contribute to the greater good.
In today’s world, as our mother’s nurtured us in our first birth, and we were reborn through Jesus Christ, we have the opportunity to tenderly embrace one another, to love as never before, to provide healing and reconciliation, and to move forward in the Spirit of God’s emerging creation.
Let me conclude with some pastoralwords by Jean Va ni er. He says that our mission as disciples“is to give life, eternal life, and reveal the face and heart of God to people. It is to be a presence of God in the world where there is an absence of God.”
He adds, “God’s works are not big miracles, which some heroic disciples may be called to do, but all those works of simple kindness and goodness, which give people life and lead them to trust in themselves and in God.”