01 May 2013

'We will come to him and make our home with him.' Sunday Reflections, Sixth Sunday of Easter Year C

The Holy Trinity, Unknown Russian Icon Painter, 1690-17-10 [Web Gallery of Art]

Readings (New American Bible: Philippines, USA)

Readings (Jerusalem Bible: Australia, England & Wales, India [optional], Ireland, New Zealand, Pakistan, Scotland, South Africa)

Gospel John 14:23-29 (Revised Standard Version – Catholic Edition)

Jesus said to his disciples, "If a man loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. He who does not love me does not keep my words; and the word which you hear is not mine but the Father's who sent me.

"These things I have spoken to you, while I am still with you. But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. You heard me say to you, 'I go away, and I will come to you.' If you loved me, you would have rejoiced, because I go to the Father; for the Father is greater than I. And now I have told you before it takes place, so that when it does take place, you may believe. 

The late Bishop Bienvenido S. Tudtud of Marawi, Philippines, (above) visited my Dad (below) in Dublin some time in the early 1980s. As it happened, Dad was about to leave for the wedding of a cousin of mine but he was able to entertain his unexpected guest for a while. Later on he told my brother, 'The bishop made me feel at home'. My brother laughed and said to him, 'You were the one supposed to make him feel at home!' But my Dad was always himself no matter whose company he was in and so was Bishop Tudtud, whose Christian name is the Spanish for 'Welcome'. They were both to die suddenly in 1987, Bishop Tudtod in a plane crash in the Philippines on 26 June and Dad at home on 11 August, from a heart attack. He had been at Mass that morning, as he had been every day of his adult life. The photo below was taken the week before his death.

My father hadn't expected Bishop Tudtud. But he made him feel welcome. The bishop felt free to just turn up because I had worked with him and had asked him to drop by my Dad if he had time. I have found over the years that there are friends' homes to which I need no invitation. These are friends with whom I truly feel at home and who feel at home with me.

Sometimes we feel fully at home with someone whom we have just met. Sometimes that being at ease with each other comes after being together many times, maybe through working together.

In the gospel of this Sunday's Mass Jesus makes the extraordinary statement, If a man loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.

The Father and Jesus are not only coming for a visit but to make their home with us. And the Third Person of the Blessed Trinity, the Counselor/Advocate, the Holy Spirit, will come and will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you. 

Fr Anselm Moynihan OP, an Irish Dominican friar who died in 1998, wrote a short book in 1948 about the Blessed Trinity living in our hearts, The Presence of God. Here is an extractAwareness of God, whether it come to us thus by a dazzling rending of the heavens or through the gentle whisper of his voice in our conscience, is at the beginning and end of our spiritual life, at the beginning and end of all religion.  It is the root of what is truly the most radical division of mankind, one to which Holy Scripture constantly reverts, that between the 'wise' who keep God before their eyes and the 'fools' who ignore him.  The first awakening of the soul to God's reality brings with it that fear of the Lord which is the 'beginning of wisdom'; the end of life should bring with it the 'wisdom of the perfect,' the fruit of charity, whereby a man will experience God's living presence within himself and be filled with longing for that full awareness of God which is the vision of his face in heaven.

Supper at Emmaus, Hendrick Terbrugghen, c.1621 [Web Gallery of Art]

The two disciples on the road to Emmaus invited Jesus to join them and they pressed him to have supper with them at the inn, as it was getting dark. It was through their welcoming him that they discovered who their unknown companion was, the Risen Lord. And in the intimacy of the breaking of the bread when they recognised him and he disappeared from their sight, they felt his presence even more strongly, even more intimately. He was now dwelling in their hearts, just as he dwells in ours, with the Father and the Holy Spirit.

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