Jesus said to his disciples:
Do not let your hearts be troubled.
Trust in God and trust in me.
There are many rooms in my Father's house;
if there were not I should have told you.
I am going now to prepare a place for you
and after I have gone and prepared a place,
I shall return to take you with me;
so that where I am you may be too.
In the above few sentences from today's Gospel according to St. John, we are being prepared for the forthcoming celebration of our Lord's Ascension in two weeks time. Jesus is telling us that he is going to prepare a place for us, yes, for each of us individually.
This is truly an amazing statement from Jesus when we really think it through.
We know so well those beautiful and encouraging words of holy Scripture - 'eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither has it entered the human heart what things God has prepared for those who love him' - but in today's Gospel passage we receive a new emphasis on that text - Jesus makes it so personal when he tells us 'I am going now to prepare a place for you' - yes, for each one of us individually.
He goes on to add 'in my Father's house, there are many mansions'
Isn't that a very precious and wonderful thought to meditate on? Jesus continues - 'after I have gone and prepared you a place, I shall return to take you with me; so that where I am you may be too'.
This is Jesus telling us as clearly as the stars shining in the mid-night sky, how deep and personal his love is for each and every one of us, no matter what we have or have not done to hurt him during our lifetime. It is all too easy when we read this passage of Scripture to overlook the deep longing Jesus has for us, for you, for me, for every one, no exceptions. Let us ponder and treasure in our hearts these consoling words of our loving Lord and Master.
When someone dear to us has been away for a long time, we go out of our way to prepare for their home-coming in every conceivable way - nothing is too much trouble. Finally comes the moment of the arrival of our loved one - who of us can express in words the joy of such a re-union? One of the psalms expresses such an emotion so well 'Cry out with joy to the Lord'.
This is how it is with Jesus, he longs so ardently for us to be with him for ever in a blessed eternity - but we do not have to wait until the next life to enjoy this union - he is with us now in this life, every step of the way, every day, every minute.
Further on in our Gospel passage, Jesus says to Thomas 'you know where I am going and you know the way' ... poor Thomas in his exasperation says: 'Lord, we do not know where you are going so how can we know the way'?
No doubt each one of us feels the frustration of Thomas many times in our lives - as Christians, we set out to follow Jesus in whatever calling he has given us in life, yet the way is seldom clear in the tangle of life with all its ups and downs, joys, sorrows, heartaches,, misunderstandings, to name but a few. Pere Caussade S.J. has some encouraging words to help us when he says:
'God is always at work in our lives in and through other people, unpleasant, no less than pleasant - in and through circumstances distasteful as well as those to our taste. Indeed, God so often uses the most unlikely people and circumstances as a special channel of His Grace and Blessing.
Fr. Caussade goes on to say:
If we only knew','the merit hidden in what each moment of the day brings, how much happier we should be. What consolation, what courage we can draw from the fact that in order to live in God's friendship and be welcomed to the home he has prepared for us in heaven, we need neither do nor suffer anything more that we are already doing or suffering'. At times this can be bordering on more than we can bear - it is not easy, Jesus never said it would be - but he is always with us, and how much we need him - he has told us 'I am with you always, yes, even unto the end of the world.
So let us live in the joy that God is with us, we need him not as an instrument but for our full life, for existence, for love. In order that we may meet him, we need to be very attentive, having open hearts rather than eyes. He travels incognito. Let us live constantly as a child before its father. 'Do not let your hearts be troubled' he pleads ' trust in God and trust in me'.
As we conclude this reflection perhaps we could do no better than pray the last verse of that beautiful hymn: Be thou my vision -
High King of Heaven, thou heaven's bright Sun,
Grant me its joys after victory is won,
Christ of my own heart, whatever befall,
Still be my vision, O Ruler of all.
I shall return to take you with me; so that where I am you may be too.