In last Sunday’s Gospel, Jesus proclaimed, “I came so that they might have life and have it more abundantly” (Jn 10:10). The life he is referring to here is not only biological life, which is subject to decay, but rather an imperishable life, eternal life. “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life” (Jn 3:16). This is why Jesus came to this world, and this is the mission he left for his Church: to guide people to God and into the fullness of life, the real life, eternal life, the reality of Heaven.
Hence, to his distressed, troubled, and floundering disciples, Jesus says in today’s Gospel: “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You have faith in God; have faith also in me. In my Father’s house there are many dwelling places. If there were not, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back again and take you to myself, so that where I am you also may be.” In the original context, Jesus addressed these words to his friends, who were deeply troubled by his imminent departure, which he had just announced. They did not understand that he was about to prepare a dwelling for each of them through his sacrifice on the Cross. The Death of Jesus gives us access to the “many dwelling places” in his Father`s house. This is the mystery of Easter: Christ, the Paschal Lamb has been sacrificed that we may have access to Heaven and to every heavenly blessing.
For us – for anyone who is troubled, who sometimes flounders, gets bored, or disgusted by different things going on – this is the kernel of the Good News: “do not let your hearts be troubled…. in my Father’s house there are many dwelling places”; and Jesus Christ has prepared a place for each one of us by the merits of his Death and Resurrection! Heaven is more real than the reality that we see. This is our hope and joy! We can look forward to a better future because there is a place in the Father’s house obtained for us by Christ! We cannot see it now, but the invisible realities that we do not see are infinitely greater than what is visible to us. God created both visible and invisible things. “This mystery of blessed communion with God and all who are in Christ is beyond all understanding and description. Scripture speaks of it in images: life, light, peace, wedding feast, wine of the Kingdom, the Father’s house, the heavenly Jerusalem, Paradise” (CCC 1027).
Heaven is such a great and beautiful reality that we would be very foolish not to take it seriously. When the Blessed Virgin Mary, who reigns in the glory of Heaven, appeared to the shepherd children of Fatima, she expressed her deep motherly concern that many people are missing out on the ineffable glory and joy of Heaven. She urged us to pray and do penance for souls. The powerful means of going to Heaven is Jesus Christ himself. He tells in today’s Gospel: “I am the Way and the Truth and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” He offers himself as “the Way” through his sacrificial Death, and he wants us to claim our place in Heaven through it, by our participation in his sacrifice. For this reason, St. Peter urges us in today’s second reading: “Come to him [Christ], a living stone, … and, like living stones, let yourselves be built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.”
Although we are not worthy to have the Lamb of God “enter under our roof,” when we receive him in Holy Communion, we claim the place prepared for us by Christ in his Father’s house. The reverent reception of Holy Communion is a most intimate encounter with the Crucified and Risen Lord, who transforms our body according to the pattern of his own glorified body, for now our citizenship is in Heaven (cf. Phil 3:20-21). Holy Communion received properly transforms us! Let us then strive daily to live the faith and unite ourselves with the Sacrifice of Christ who is the Way, the Truth, and the Life.
What concerns trouble my heart? How often do I ponder on the beautiful reality that Jesus has prepared a place for me in Heaven? How do I understand the words of Jesus, “I came so that they might have life and have it more abundantly”?
Excerpt from The Anawim Way, Volume 19, no. 4. More information about The Anawim Way may be found here.