“If anyone loves me he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.” (John 14:23)
Jesus makes this promise to the disciples in his last conversation with them before his arrest later that evening. This is not like the promise of heaven that we cannot experience until we die. This is a promise for today, for right now!
If we love Jesus and live by his teaching, he and the Father, the God of all creation, will take up residence in us through the power of the Holy Spirit. Jesus goes on to say that this promise is not just his but the Father’s as well. “These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me.” (v. 24)
If Jesus and the Father make their home with us, they take up residence with us and we become as St. Paul says, “the temple of the living God.” (1 Co. 6:16)
Think of it! Jesus and the Father are in us, present to us, available to us at every moment. Wherever we are, whatever we are doing, they are available to guide our conduct and help us make the daily choices in our lives.
St. Paul eloquently captures the essence of this when he declares, “The mystery that has been kept hidden for ages and generations is now disclosed to the saints…which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.” (Col. 1:26-27) Our hope is in Christ and Christ in us!
Why is it that so many of us do not always experience the reality of Christ residing in us? The answer may be found in the individual choices we make that determine whether God is buried alive or made alive in each of us. Do we bury God’s presence in us, hiding him – or do we let him be seen, heard and experienced?
In my early adult years I lived my life in a way that mostly buried God’s presence in me rather than allowing that presence to be manifested. I believed in God and attended church regularly. Yet my Christian faith had become secondary to other so-called priorities, namely my career. I seldom thought about God’s presence in me, and so that presence wasn’t visible to others either.
Fortunately, through God’s grace that changed one October evening when I was faced with the opportunity to turn over my mixed priorities to Jesus. It was a watershed moment. I am still capable of forgetting that Jesus is present to me in how I respond to an unsolicited phone call, or a possible offense from a family member or friend, or when I wrestle with a request to help or serve another.
The good news is that we can repent of these times and bring our selves back into God’s presence. We can then call on his gifts of wisdom, discernment, and courage to make daily choices consistent with Jesus’ teaching and partner with him in building his kingdom on earth in our time.
William A. Barry, SJ, in his book, A Friendship Like No Other, says, “God offers friendship to each human being not only as a path for his or her salvation but also as a means for the salvation of the world.” The furtherance of God’s kingdom on this earth is dependent upon our letting God dwell in us so that we can cooperate with him in fulfilling his will for us and becoming, “partners in the family business.”