This Sunday reflection is based on John 14:1-12.
Today’s Gospel passage is a veritable treasure trove of quotable quotes. Our Lord speaks many unforgettably powerful words here. Among the many great lines in the passage, what I find most striking today is the architecture of God’s heart that our Lord Jesus describes. “In my Father’s house, there are many dwelling places,” Jesus assures his disciples.
In other words, in God’s heart, there is room for all of us: those of us who have found “the Way, the Truth, and the Life”–but maybe even those of us that the Way, the Truth and the Life will find. The Father’s heart is a spacious mansion. And since in this same sermon, our Lord tells us that “whoever has seen him has seen the Father,” we can very well conclude that Jesus’ heart, like the Father’s, is a spacious mansion as well, with many rooms reserved for us.
We know this to be true. The Lord’s heart is full of compassion. We see this most vividly in Calvary when in the midst of his pain and suffering, he thinks of the welfare of others and forgives the very people responsible for his death. We see this as he delivers this sermon, on the eve of his death, when he comforts his disciples, advising them not to “let their hearts be troubled”–at the time when it is he himself who needs the comforting and it is his heart that is understandably most troubled. It is small wonder that Martin Luther King has described this as our Lord’s “most comforting sermon.”
If this is the architecture of the Lord’s heart, we must ask ourselves about the architecture of our own. Is our heart as open and as large as our Lord’s? Do we extend compassion to others as readily as our Lord does to all–not just his friends and disciples, but even and especially his enemies? Is our heart anywhere like His–that spacious mansion with room for all, its door flung wide open to strangers and enemies?
Or is it the case that our heart resembles more the crowded inns of Bethlehem, with little or no remaining space for the stranger who knocks on our doors? Perhaps our heart is more often than not so cluttered with everyday and worldly concerns–concerns that aren’t all that valuable in the greater scheme of things when we think about it, if we think about it–and as a result, we find ourselves with no choice but to shut the door of our hearts.
Let us pray that we may begin renovating the crowded inn that is our heart so that someday, with God’s grace, it may more and more resemble the architecture of the Lord’s heart. And the only way to begin is by stretching it. Today.