Last week I started out asking what makes the house we live in different from all other houses, and the fact that it is we who live there is what makes all the difference/what makes it special. Then, as we heard in the Scriptures that God wants to live in us/to make His dwelling with us, this indwelling of God in our lives makes us special and is meant to make all the difference for us in our lives. Yet as we see again today, with God dwelling in us, not only does this make our “house” (ourselves) different, it is also meant—so to speak—to make that house bigger. So to continue to use the house analogy, not only does allowing God to live in us bring about an ongoing interior renovation project, but also ongoing home addition/expansion. This expansion is not for our own good; it makes room for others.
On the night before He died for us, Jesus tells His Apostles He is leaving them peace—but not as the world gives peace. The Holy Land at that time was under the control of the Roman Empire. The peace Jesus gives is different from that of the emperor, of the Pax Romana: the “peace” the Romans tried to bring about through the sword. The peace Jesus gives is not through a military might that puts down opposition, but through His self-sacrificing love for others, for the world; it is the peace that belongs to the Kingdom of God.
In the Acts of the Apostles we hear about this special synod of leaders of the early Church solving a dispute about membership by discerning compromises so that they could continue to grow together in Christian faith and charity. While there was a difference of opinion, they were open above all to the promptings of the Holy Spirit moving them toward commonality. Sadly, I think we see the ways of the world diverge from this more and more. In particular, we can see this in a growing lack of civility and charity in politics, grisly played out in a special way these days in the long presidential election “season” that we’re still stuck in the midst of. With differences of opinion, we hardly observe any openness to the other, as an other.
As with last Sunday’s 2nd Reading, we see in our passage from the Book of Revelation the new “holy city Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God.” That this vision is of a city reminds us that we are meant to be part of a community—a community centered around the Lamb of God. We hear that this holy city has gates facing all directions: east, north, south, and west. This city/this community/this Church is designed to gather the nations, to gather all around the Lamb of God and so change the world.
We look to do all of this in our own little corner of the world as we look to grow as disciples together: to be bearers of the peace that comes from the self-giving love of Christ, to be open to others, to be a community that draws others into a relationship with the living God. None of this is easy, of course, which is why we must rely on the grace of God to keep us expanding. And at the center of it all is our encounter with the Lord at the altar of the Lamb of God.
©2017 St. Peters Catholic Church Huron Ohio.
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