As a pastor, a source of serious concern is having to remind parishioners, more often than in the past, that Jesus’ Resurrection, his victory over all evils, death included, is irreversible and unstoppable. At increasing frequency, what we see on television and/or read in newspapers or we might experience directly, is deeply disturbing and unsettling. In our anguish, we look up to heaven; we sigh and place ourselves in God’s hands. But, if not even God comes quickly to our aid hope itself might die in our hearts.
Yet, in these unnerving and scary situations, the Church dares to offer us a glorious and triumphant picture of herself.
The angel took me in the spirit to a great, high mountain, and showed me the holy city Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God, it gleamed with the splendor of God. Revelation 21:10-11
The Church knows painfully well that a sizable portion of herself is worried and confused; it is suffering intensely; it is persecuted in many ways, overtly and covertly. The Church knows that many of her children witness the crumbling of their hope and weep tears of distress. We, and countless others, are that part of the suffering Church! Yet, we are urged to keep our spiritual eyes fixed on the picture of glory described in vivid colors in the Book of Revelation (21:10-14, 22-23). But frankly, while in the past, the occasional thought of the glory awaiting us in heaven was sufficient to keep us journeying toward the promised land of heaven, for many that thought ceases to be sufficient now.
Our anxiety is too deep. The thought of heaven might have become insufficient to hearten us. Thus, it is essential to stress a vital detail in that same reading: I saw no temple in the city for its temple is the Lord God almighty and the Lamb. Revelation 21: 22
Let us think: Where is God? Where is the Lamb? God is everywhere—of course! But, after the Lamb offered on the cross his supreme sacrifice to the Father, God dwells in a special way in the New Temple. We, members of the Church are the living stones of God’s New Temple (cf. 1 Peter 2:5; 1 Corinthians 3:17); we host God in our heart.
This is indeed good news. But, it is often-overlooked good news. This is the good news which the Church, as the loving mother that she is, enthusiastically proclaims to us.
Jesus said to his disciples “Whoever loves me will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our dwelling with him. John 14:23
This could be the secret capable of supporting us in our trials and designed to drive us through thick darkness. We do not need to look up to heaven and to sigh. We do not have to live through something unbearable and keep going. It should be sufficient to look inside our heart. In it we will find the Father. In it we will meet Jesus, the Son, the Lamb. In it we will be consoled by the Holy Spirit, the divine Comforter.
However, why do we remain hesitant? Why are we only slightly impressed by this consoling reality?
It is beautiful; it is a source of great comfort to know that the Holy Trinity dwells in us. But there are times when we are assailed by severe trials and threatened by very real dangers; so we quickly lose sight of our divine Guest.
Hence, what shall we do to keep this vital contact with the Holy Trinity amid many daunting distractions? Jesus suggests that we focus on loving him as best we can in sincerity of heart and to keep his Word. Firstly, God expects to be loved not by perfect, superhuman but by sincere love. God is pleased if we respond to his invitations as best we humanly can and cooperate with his grace to make us evermore Christ-like. And, secondly, in order to keep his Word we need to carve out slivers of time throughout our busy day to dwell on Holy Scripture verses—preferably from the Gospel.
The verse we pick on any given day should be impressed in our mind to ease our inner turmoil and be recalled throughout the day whenever something triggers in us restlessness and we feel alone and isolated.
There are, of course, a variety of other different ways to remind ourselves of God’s presence.
Actually, even this is not strictly necessary because, the Lord loves us so much that he fills our days with many subtle signs of his presence and constant, brief messages of love and comfort. Both the subtle signs and the little messages are meant to set us free. Free from anguish, from fear and from excessive worries until we become viscerally convinced that we are safest in the Father’s hands.
This freedom will, in turn, bring us his peace: Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give it to you. Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid. John 14:27
This is a wish most certainly inspired by the Holy Spirit: the wish to receive and to live by the peace that the Lord Jesus gives us. This is the wish we ought to extend wholeheartedly to each other.