VERBUM DOMINI

A Place to Stay

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Being homeless is terrible. I had a brief taste of it once. On an extended trek through the mountains, a friend and I were diverted from our course by unexpected storms and snow. As students, we were broke. We had planned two weeks of camping with enough money for groceries. Bad weather forced us to find lodging. We carefully balanced our resources on the essentials: food and shelter. The trip started as a vacation and quickly became an effort for survival. It was an anxious and restless experience.

Most of us have homes to live in, but from another perspective, we have all been homeless for a long time. From the moment Adam and Eve were forced from the Garden, humanity has been wandering. From Abraham to Moses, the history of the Israelites is nomadic, moving from place to place, restless. They long for a home, they long for the land promised them, a place where they can set their tents permanently (Dt 12:8-11). There, God will establish his temple. There, God will set up his abode to rest in the midst of his people. In Israel there will be a new garden, a new Eden. But then, even this proves transitory. The land is occupied. The temple is torn down. The people are homeless again.

This weekend John the Baptist testifies: “I saw the Spirit come down like a dove from the sky and remain upon him” (Jn 1:32). The key word is remain. The Spirit did not just visit Jesus. Rather, in Jesus, the Spirit has found a new home on earth, a place to remain. Jesus is the new temple, “for in him dwells the whole fullness of the deity bodily” (Col: 2:9). Jesus is also the new Eden. As in the Garden, with Jesus we walk again with God. In Jesus, we are fed again by God (Gen 1:29; Jn 6:54-56). In the Garden, “they felt no shame” (Gen 2:25). In Christ, our shame is removed. Jesus is the new temple and the new Eden. Jesus is our new home.

The coming of Christ ends our nomadic existence. Wearied travelers since the fall, we finally come to rest in Jesus. For not only did the Spirit remain with him, but “he is the one who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.” God sets up his dwelling in Christ, but through him, God comes to dwell in us as well. Baptized, we ourselves are temples of God (1Cor 3:16). Restless and anxious since Eden, our homelessness ends in baptism. We are “no longer strangers and sojourners, but...members of the household of God” (Eph 2:19). We now dwell with him because he “made his dwelling among us” (Jn 1:14).