The Gospel of St. John is full of peculiar phrases.
Approaching it can involve doing a few optical double-takes to get what the Evangelist is getting at. One of these phrases occurs in the 3rd verse of chapter 14:
“And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, so that where I am, there you may be also.”
It’s a verse I’ve read many times. But I don’t think I contemplated it enough, and familiarity bred a lack of reverence concerning it’s implications.
In my post on prayer I talk a bit about eschatology.
Specifically the idea that we can look at the original design of creation laid out in Scripture as a precursor to the perfected New Creation. I’ve been dwelling on this idea more in the time since that post went up.
If in Eden man walked with God in the cool of the day¹, the perfected implementation of this vision is dwelling with God always.
And thus we get to the verse above.
Jesus promised us that when He returned to the Father that He had work to do. He’s preparing us a place to dwell with Him forever.
Not in a vague or general sense either. In the verse just prior to our focus Our Lord specifically explains that in the Father’s house there are “Many dwellings.”
Christ is building a place just for each one of us to be with Him, and He’s expecting us to be there. He’s not working away whimsically thinking it would be nice if we turned up. He want us to be ready to be with Him in glory.
And this makes mysteries like the Ascension really important.
In Christ’s going up, he’s guaranteeing the fulfilment of the promise of an everlasting kingdom where His people dwell with Him constantly.
And call me bold to say, but even though these places aren’t ready yet I know we’re going to love them.
Dwelling is a big theme in the Church’s theology.
For example, The Church currently dwelling places of the presence of God by the Holy Spirit & Eucharist, according to the Catechism of the Catholic Church.²
The Church is also called God’s “pilgrim people” dwelling in a world it’s not quite born of. Sojourners in a strange land, the lot of us.
It reminds me of a story my Mum likes to tell about me³:
When I was very young and before I was in school I would wait on the front step of our house for my Dad to get back from work. I’d have an old landline phone and babble away just like I was chatting to him.
I don’t remember it personally, but knowing myself well enough I’m sure I was absolutely giddy when he would roll up to the door, pick me up from the step, and take me into our home.
What a picture of Heaven.
God is expecting you (and me) to be waiting just like that. But this time it’s even better.
One day our God will return to bring us out of our trials, into an everlasting home that has been hand-crafted for us to belong in, a kingdom of perfected peace and love.
And in the meantime, during the time of preparation, we wait expectantly, in prayer and long-suffering hope, trusting in the promise all the while crying “Marana tha!” ⁴
And when He comes, Christ will lift us of the step and take us into a forever home, together with Him & each other.
- Symbolically this means Adam & Eve would’ve walked with an incarnate God, who would be Jesus. The transcendent God is such a mind-bending idea.
- That would be the article 756 in the Catechism specifically.
- She has a lot of those. (Love you Mum!)
- “Marana tha” = Come, Our Lord!