In the gospel reading of the 5th Sunday of Easter (see bottom of post), Jesus told his apostles that he would leave them to prepare a place for them in his “Father’s house” (Jn 14:2). In the Bible, “God’s house” is a key term that refers to the Church, as signified by the Tabernacle (Ex 26) and the Jerusalem Temple (1 Kgs 6-8). Similar use of this term is often found in the Mosaic Law: “The choicest first fruits of your soil you shall bring to the house of the LORD, your God,” (Ex. 23:19).
In the first reading, we see how the Father’s house – the Church of Christ – continued to get prepared: the ordination of 7 deacons, which marked the origin of the diaconal office – the ministry of charity – and became part of the fundamental structure of the Church (cf. Deus Caritas Est, n.21).
“House” as a key biblical word also refers to a dynasty or kingdom. God revealed to King David that his “house”, i.e. the Davidic kingdom or dynasty, shall endure forever (2 Sam 7:16). David’s kingdom foreshadows Jesus’ Heavenly Kingdom, whose founding and emergence he proclaimed in the beginning of his public ministry (Mk 1:15), and which he would continue to “prepare” upon departure from the apostles. Jesus is “Lord of lords and king of kings” (Rev 17:14); he is the perfect fulfillment of all the kings and their kingdoms on earth. His Messianic Kingdom is the only Kingdom that endures forever (cf. Dan 2:31-45).
Continuing the theme of God’s house, the 2nd reading reveals that the Church of Christ – His Kingdom - is built firmly on Christ himself, who is a “chosen, precious cornerstone” that was rejected by the builders, i.e. the Jews (1 Pet 2:6-7); its inhabitants, as God had already foretold through Moses (Ex. 19:6), are “a chosen race, a kingdom of priests, a holy nation”.
Clearly we all want to live in the Father’s house. Now that we have pondered this Sunday’s readings, let’s be honest and ask ourselves: Do I belong to this “chosen race”? What’s my “priesthood” (see post of May 8, 2014)? How successful am I in exercising my priesthood? Do I live in holiness or in sinfulness? The answers to your questions may well decide whether the Father’s house is for you to live in!
(Readings of the 5th Sunday of Easter, Year A: Acts 6:1-7, 1Pt 2:20-25, Lk 10:1-10)