Jesus: The New Dwelling of God

03-07-2021Pastoral ReflectionsRev. Brian F. Manning

In Catholic or Christian theology, we use the word “Revelation” frequently when we are thinking about or discussing God and life. This word comes from the Latin language which uses the preface “re” to reverse the meaning of the main part of the word. Instead of covering up, it means showing. God and his sacred Word are revealed to us, i.e. God and his message are shown to us.

If we could gather all the knowledge and experience in the world, we can come to some understanding or insight about God and His ways, but we realize we cannot grasp all of it. The more we know and experience, the more we need to know and experience. We come to understand that God revealing Himself to us is a gift. We can see and understand all of this in the story of the Exodus, which we read part of this weekend. We see in this story that God desires that these people forge a covenant with Him; after all He delivered them from slavery in Egypt. This God who delivers is also a God of a Covenant; this is what is revealed in this story. This revelation took a long time to sink in; the Israelites did not quickly understand they had a relationship with God and with each person. God was to be the priority. The Ten Commandments are clear expressions of this covenant and how it was to be kept.

Our Gospel writer John changes the sequence of the story of Jesus and his ministry from the other Gospel writers and puts this weekend’s gospel event near beginning of the public ministry of Jesus. His principle concern is not the Temple and its treasury; rather it is making clear to one and all that Jesus is in the dwelling of God among us. Our Gospel passage reflects the opening words of John Gospel: “And the Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us”. The revelation is that the Temple in all its glory is not the dwelling that ultimately and finally matters here. To John it is crystal clear that Jesus is the new dwelling of God, who will not be destroyed and who will be raised up in three days. We also learn in this story that many came to believe in Jesus and also many did not. More importantly we learn that Jesus did not represent the revelation that the temple religious leaders wanted. Their pietistic and legalistic faith blinded them to the meaning.

We learn in this passage the great lesson that those who keep their hearts or minds closed to the real and living presence of God will miss the opportunity of Jesus when He is there before them. There are many people who will miss the message, grace, and power of Jesus because they have blocked Him from their lives in the name of their own alleged faith. Their faith appears to be more in themselves and not in God. Faith in Jesus makes us not less, but more.