The Home of Love
Thursday, December 21, 2017
Mutual presence or intimacy is the ultimate goal of the spiritual journey. Perhaps this is why images of bride and bridegroom are so commonly used by the prophets, the Song of Songs, John the Baptist, Jesus, and in the last verses of the Bible where the marriage is symbolically consummated (Revelation 19:7; 21:2, 9; 22:17).
Remember, presence does not happen in the mind. All the mind can handle is before and after; it does not know how to be present in the now. That is the mind’s great limitation. This is why all teachers of prayer give us methods for literally moving “beyond the mind” (meta-noia), which so many Bibles since St. Jerome’s unfortunate Latin (poenitentia) translate as “repent.”
To be capable of mutual indwelling or co-inherence means that religion has achieved its full and final purpose. Bride and bridegroom are together just for the sake of being together! Presence is the naked language of union, of being lost and found in the face of the other, or in Jesus, the very breath of the Other (John 20:22). If that is the core meaning of eternal life, then why wouldn’t you practice it now, enjoy it now, choose it now? How you get there is where you will arrive.
You don’t have to figure it all out or get everything right ahead of time. You just have to stay on the full journey. None of us know how to be perfect, but we can practice staying in union, staying connected. “Remain in me and I remain in you,” says Jesus (see John 15:7). It is about abiding, not performing. It is about holding to your core identity more than perfect behavior—which would only make you proud and self-sufficient—even if it were possible.
If you are already at home in love, you will easily and quickly go to the home of love, which is what we mean by heaven. God doesn’t keep anybody from heaven. But some people are not choosing heaven. If you don’t want a trusting relationship of love now, why would you want one later? We must be honest with ourselves.
In third grade, the nuns told me that heaven would be looking at God, at a “beatific vision,” for all eternity. As a child, this sounded quite boring to me. But now that I’ve had experiences of deep love and union with God, I am enthralled with the possibility of infinite life and love. It must be a state of constant growth and newness since love is infinitely good, “the greatest” of the things that last (1 Corinthians 13:13).
Every day and in every way, we must choose to live in love. It is mostly a decision, not a feeling. We must even be eager to learn the ever-deeper ways of love which follow from every decision to love.
Gateway to Silence:
Going home to Love
Adapted from Richard Rohr, Are You Eager to Love? St. Francis on the Edge of the Inside (Center for Action and Contemplation: 2014), CD, MP3 download; and
Things Hidden: Scripture as Spirituality (Franciscan Media: 2007), 214.