We may begin our reflection today by focusing on this line from Psalm 27: “One thing I ask of the LORD; this I seek: to dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life.” To dwell in the house of the Lord means to be where the Lord is, to live continuously in his presence. It is perhaps natural for us, when we hear about dwelling in the house of the Lord, to think of Heaven. Of course, that is our final goal, to be welcomed into the glorious wedding feast in Heaven and to spend eternity “gazing on the loveliness of the LORD” in the Beatific Vision. But we note that the psalmist does not say, “one thing I ask for, to dwell in the LORD’s house after I die.” No, he prays that he might dwell in the house of the LORD “all the days of my life.” He boldly states: “I believe that I shall see the good things of the LORD in the land of the living.”
While it is true that we do not experience the fullness of life with the Lord here on earth, still we are invited to begin sharing in his life, to dwell in his house, even now. In his prayer to the Father in today’s Gospel, Jesus says that his followers belonged to the Father, and that the Father has given them to Jesus. He prays, “they are yours, and everything of mine is yours and everything of yours is mine.”
We belong to God, but not as if we were simply his property or his slaves. Jesus teaches us in many places in the Gospels that we are the beloved children of the Father. And in the Gospel Acclamation for today he assures us, “I will not leave you orphans…. I will come back to you, and your hearts will rejoice.” We have just celebrated the Ascension of Jesus, not as if he were leaving us, but rather as his way of coming to us in a far more intimate way by the power of the Spirit. In fact, the Gospel Acclamation is taken from the passage in John’s Gospel directly after Jesus tells the Apostles that he will ask the Father to send the Spirit to them. He “comes back” to us, not only in the Second Coming, but moment by moment in the presence of the Spirit with us.
Pope Francis assures us of this truth in the Spiritual Reflection: “The Feast of the Ascension tells us that although Jesus ascended to Heaven to dwell gloriously at the right hand of the Father, he is still and always among us: this is the source of our strength, our perseverance and our joy, from the very presence of Jesus among us with the strength of the Holy Spirit.”
We return now to where we began: we want to “dwell in the house of the LORD” all the days of our lives. This means to be where he is, to strive to live in his presence. Where Jesus’ presence can be found, most especially in these days between the Ascension and Pentecost, is in the Upper Room, where the disciples are gathered in prayer with Mary his mother, as we see in today’s first reading. This Room represents the secret, interior place of our hearts, where we worship God and strive to hear his word as he leads us. We want to live out of this place, striving to remain present to the Lord, giving glory to him in all that we say and do. We want to remain in prayer with our Mother Mary, always begging for a fuller outpouring of the Spirit upon us and upon the world.
In a sense, the Upper Room where we are called to remain with Jesus is also a tomb. It is here that we die to this life, and to all the empty attractions and false ways of the world. Jesus says in the Gospel that his Father gave him his followers “out of the world.” To dwell in the house of the LORD is to give up seeking a lasting “dwelling” in this world. We do not work for honor, glory, possessions, or power in the world, but for the glory of the Father, as Jesus did. This will mean suffering for us – first of all, suffering the struggle of disciplining our own disordered cravings and attachments, but also suffering rejection and persecution from those who follow the ways of the world. In the second reading St. Peter tells us: “Rejoice to the extent that you share in the sufferings of Christ, so that when his glory is revealed you may also rejoice exultantly. If you are insulted for the name of Christ, blessed are you, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you.”
We pray for the grace today and throughout the coming week to live in the Upper Room with Mary, striving to remain in the presence of the Lord, dwelling in his house with him, and opening ourselves more fully to an outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon us at Pentecost.
What guides me in my spiritual life to live each day in the presence of Jesus? How am I united with Mary and the Apostles as they await the coming of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost? What are my inner feelings as I ponder on the truth that I am a beloved child of the Father?
Excerpt from The Anawim Way, Volume 19, no. 4. More information about The Anawim Way may be found here.