Daily Homily: In My Father's House There Are Many Dwelling Places

Friday of the Fourth Week of Easter

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Acts 13:26-33
Psalm 2:6-7, 8-9, 10-11ab
John 14:1-6

Saint Paul continues his sermon in the synagogue and accuses the inhabitants and leaders of Jerusalem of failing to recognize Jesus as the promised Savior and as the promised Son of David. By condemning Jesus to death and hanging him on the tree of the Cross, the people unknowingly fulfilled the oracles of the prophets. As prophesied by Isaiah, God uses the sufferings and crucifixion of his Servant, Jesus, to bring about his plan of salvation.

Paul recalls that his listeners are children of the family of Abraham. After narrating the passion, death and resurrection of Jesus, Paul proclaims that what God promised to their fathers (to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob)  has been granted to them, the children of Abraham, through Jesus Christ. God fulfills his promises to Abraham and his promise to David by raising up Jesus. «Because the risen Jesus is an eternally living son of David whose reign will never end, he unconditionally fulfills the promise that David’s throne will stand forever (2 Sam 7:13)» (Kurz, Acts of the Apostles, Baker Academic, 215).

Paul quotes the second psalm, which we sing today, and applies it to Jesus. Originally, the psalm referred to the new king in the line of David who, at his coronation, was declared God’s adopted son and given authority and dominion. «Now this royal psalm is fulfilled in Jesus the Messiah, risen and enthroned in heaven so as to share God’s dominion over the whole world» (Kurz, Acts of the Apostles, Baker Academic, 215).

The theme of divine sonship is very present in today’s Gospel passage. During the Last Supper, Jesus calls his disciples «children» because through the New Covenant they are granted the inheritance of the Father (John 13:8). Some of the disciples, like John and Peter, are Jesus’ own; others, like Judas, have rejected Jesus and do not belong to him.

Just as Israel’s acceptance of covenant sonship was sealed by a covenant meal (Exodus 24:9-11), so this meal expresses the New Covenant relationship. The meal generates fellowship and communion and is a manifestation of the divine kinship bonds that have been establish through the New Covenant. On this night, Jesus taught his disciples about the obligations of the New Covenant: he gave them the New Commandment to love one another; and he teaches not just by word, but also by example in washing his disciples’ feet (See DeMeo, Covenantal Kinship in John 13-17, 118-120).

Today, Jesus invites both his disciples and us, who have become children of God through Baptism, to trust and believe in him. As God’s children, we will dwell with the Father as a son dwells in his father’s house. Likewise, the Father and the Son will dwell in us who believe in Jesus and love him (John 14:23).

The theme of dwelling in the father’s house recalls the temple, which embodied God’s covenant with David. In his Gospel, John refers first to the Jerusalem temple as the house of the Father (John 2:16), but will transition to the temple of Jesus’ body. Jesus risen and glorified body is the Father’s house, which is the temple where God definitively dwells in the midst of his new covenant people (Revelation 21:22) (See DeMeo, Covenantal Kinship in John 13-17, 294-295).

Through our Baptism and our faith in Jesus, we have become children of the Father and members of the Church, the Mystical Body of Christ. As Christians, our way to the Father is Jesus Christ. It is a way that passes through the humility of the cross but ends in the glory of eternal life.

Readers may contact Father Jason Mitchell at mitchelljason2011@gmail.com.

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Jason Mitchell

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