Fifth Sunday of Easter
A Homily - Cycle A - 2013-2014
First Reading - Acts 6:1-7
Responsorial Psalm - Psalm 33:1-2, 4-5, 18-19
Second Reading - 1 Peter 2:4-9
Gospel - John 14:1-12
John wrote to show that Christ was
the Messiah, the Divine Son of God.
"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. Where I am going you know the way." Thomas said to him, "Master, we do not know where you are going; how can we know the way?" Jesus said to him, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you know me, then you will also know my Father. From now on you do know him and have seen him" Philip said to him, "Master, show us the Father, and that will be enough for us." Jesus said to him, "Have I been with you for so long a time and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, 'Show us the Father'? Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I speak to you I do not speak on my own. The Father who dwells in me is doing his works. Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me, or else, believe because of the works themselves. Amen, amen, I say to you, whoever believes in me will do the works that I do, and will do greater ones than these, because I am going to the Father."
A cab driver reaches the pearly gates. St. Peter looks him up in his Big Book and tells him to pick up a gold staff and a silk robe and proceed into Heaven. Next in line is a preacher. St. Peter looks him up in his Big Book, furrows his brow and says, “Okay, we’ll let you in, but take that cloth robe and wooden staff.”
The preacher is shocked and replies, “But I am a man of the cloth. You gave that cab driver a gold staff and a silk robe. Surely I rate higher than a cabbie!” St. Peter responds matter-of-factly, “This is Heaven and up here, we are interested in results. When you preached, people slept. When the cabbie drove his taxi, people prayed.”
But do you ever wonder about things like that? What we’ll be dressed in. What it will look like. What our family will be doing up there. What our homes will be like in Heaven. For good reason, the life to come has garnered a lot more attention, especially after release of the movie, Heaven is for Real. So if it’s real, what is it like? How big is it? Should I pack a suitcase?
I don’t think so, based on what Jesus tells me today. He tells us that there are many dwelling places in Heaven, also known as the house of His Father. Many dwelling places, one for you, one for me, one for all of us. And our Lord goes to prepare that unique place for us. And when it is time to go there, He will come to bring us there. Best escort ever. Such care, such sweeping the carpet and preparing the room, there’s no hotel that I know which offers such service . . . there’s really only one place that offers such loving care. I call it home! After two years of mandatory stay in Italy, after two years of being away from the States, after two years of being away from multi-aisle grocery stores, it was good to be home . . . and from the first moment I got off the plane and kissed the ground, my family was there to greet me, to take me home. Nothing better. But then, my home would eventually change to become St. Philip’s Rectory! My new home in Falls Church would last for a number of years, but then I knew that this home as well would change to another parish, or a ship in the Navy. Home would continue to change, as many military people are very used to. Stay here, move on. A few years here, move on. Do have a home which I can call MY home, forever?
Jesus claims that I do. He claims that He’s preparing it for me. Which means a lot for me now. As much as I move around, whether in the diocese or in the military, home means a lot. Wherever I go around here, I can always proudly say I’m a native Northern Virginian. Wherever I go around the world in the fleet, I can proudly say that I’m an American, a citizen of this blessed country. But perhaps, more fundamentally than these two identities, wherever I go, or whatever I do, or however I feel, there is one identity which is more important than all the rest - - - I am a citizen of Heaven! THAT is my TRUE home . . . It’s definitely food for thought. Heaven is MORE home for me (and you) that Northern Virginia. Heaven is MORE home for me (and you) than the United States. Heaven is MORE home for me (and you) than planet earth. For Heaven is being in the house of our Father, who grants us eternal life through the resurrection of His Son.
What does that mean? What do citizens of Haven do? They do extraordinary things, for they are brothers and sisters of Jesus Christ. They are children of God. In fact, their brother Jesus has promised them that, regardless of what HE has done, they (verse 10 of this passage) THEY will do greater things than He has done! If you’re interested in results, notice the results of one who lives KNOWING that HEAVEN is their TRUE home. All this? . . . we’re just passing through. We’re just getting ready. We’re following the way, the ONLY way to our Heavenly home, and this way has a name – Jesus Christ, who is getting more excited each day to welcome us home. Amen.