Bonds of love exist between people, whether spouses, parents and children, siblings or friends. Although these bonds are not visible they exist nonetheless. The signs that accompany these bonds which make them known include joy, peace, contentment, care, concern and company.
By company I mean being “present” to one another or being with one another such as spending time together, enjoying certain activities together or traveling together. This sense of the word is conveyed in various expressions such as “we have company,” “she’s accompanying her mom,” or “companions on a journey.” Being with other people is a prerequisite for building the relationships that develop and the bonds of love that hold that relationship together.
The Gospel passage for today’s liturgy reminds us of the bonds of love between the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Jesus speaks in an intimate way of his relationship with His Father. The love that is this relationship between the persons of the Holy Trinity is a relationship that we have been invited to enter.
Jesus says: “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.” The promise that Jesus offers is one of an intimate loving relationship. A bond that is strong. He promises to the believer that He and the Father will “make their dwelling with him.”
When we think about this description of “dwelling” together we can be struck by the awesome nature of this relationship. God loves us so much that he is always with us. He lives in us. If He dwells with us, then never is He away from us. His presence is “ever-present.”
Jesus reiterates the dwelling theme when He speaks of the Father’s sending the Holy Spirit (the “advocate” or “paraclete”). The Spirit is sent in the name of Jesus to “teach you everything and to remind you of all that I told you.” This harkens back to Jesus’ earlier words “whoever loves me will keep my word….”
Jesus reveals or “makes known” the Father to us. He shows us the Father’s love in His life, His words and His works. The Holy Spirit reminds us of this and helps us to keep His word. God is present to us and so our relationship is one of continual development and growth.
Last Monday we celebrated the memorial of St. Catherine of Siena. She describes this relationship in these words:
“You are a mystery as deep as the sea; the more I search, the more I find, and the more I find the more I search for you. But I can never be satisfied; what I receive will ever leave me desiring more. When you fill my soul I have an even greater hunger, and I grow more famished for your light. I desire above all to see you, the true light, as you really are…. Eternal Trinity, Godhead, mystery deep as the sea, you could give me no greater gift than the gift of yourself. For you are a fire ever burning and never consumed, which itself consumes all the selfish love that fills my being. Yes, you are a fire that takes away the coldness, illuminates the mind with its light and causes me to know your truth. By this light, reflected as it were in a mirror, I recognize that you are the highest good, one we can neither comprehend nor fathom. And I know that you are beauty and wisdom itself. The food of angels, you gave yourself to man in the fire of your love. You are the garment which covers our nakedness, and in our hunger you are a satisfying food, for you are sweetness and in you there is no taste of bitterness, O triune God!”
St. Catherine beautifully describes the loving relationship of God dwelling in her. The depth of that relationship is seen not only in her description but also in her life and the manner in which she lived.
God’s loving relationship with us, this intimate relationship, is nourished through prayer. When we pray we bring to mind that God dwells in our hearts. His abiding presence fills us with peace and consolation. Through prayer we are reminded that we are never alone.
No matter what struggles we face, what crosses we bear, what temptations we endure, God is present with us. His abiding presence fills us with joy. Through prayer we are reminded that He is always with us. And so the moments of great celebration and happiness that we enjoy in our lives become even more meaningful and abundant.
As we continue to celebrate Jesus’ resurrection from the dead we are reminded of God’s immense love. The bond of love that God has for us is strong and abiding. He dwells with us, and as Jesus promised, never leaves us abandoned.
Msgr. Joseph Prior is pastor of St. John the Evangelist Parish, Morrisville.