When we hear that someone we love is going to visit us and make an extended stay with us, it is a sign of love and esteem for that person that we would prepare for their arrival. We want to make a good impression on that person and to present our best self to them. If we truly love them then we want them to extend their stay for as long as possible, even perhaps making it permanent. We prepare a place for them, a room where they can feel at home. We begin by giving our home a thorough cleansing and make certain that everything is in order.
In the gospel of John, Jesus gives his apostles a beautiful promise to which they can look forward. He tells them: “I will come to you. In a little while the world will no longer see me, but you will see me, because I live and you will live. On that day you will realize that I am in my Father and you are in me and I in you.” (Jn 14,18ff) This is a beautiful mystery of indwelling that Jesus reveals to his disciples. The Father is always with the Son, dwelling within him, and he can do nothing without the Father’s help. Every word that he says, every work that he accomplishes is actually the Father at work in him. Jesus is never alone for the Father is always with him. Earlier, Jesus reveals to his disciples: “The Father and I are one.” (Jn 10,30) This mystery of the indwelling presence of God is a gift that Jesus offers to share with those who believe in him and who follow in the way of his commandments of love.
The indwelling of God is a supernatural gift that is given to believers. God wants all of his children to have a share in his divine and supernatural life. The life that he gives to us is not just a natural life of abundance on this earth but it is an eternal life that begins in us and prepares for us an eternal life of glory with God forever in heaven. Jesus has promised that he will come to us and that through his Holy Spirit he will dwell always within us as our Advocate with the Father. Jesus says to his apostles: “And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate to be with you always, the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot accept, because it neither sees nor knows him. But you know him, because he remains with you, and will be in you.” (Jn 14,16f) Jesus not only will come to us but he also wants to stay with usand to be with us and in us always. When Jesus comes to be with us, he comes to stay.
How can this be? How can we prepare our hearts to be a suitable dwelling place for Jesus the Lord? The indwelling of God the Father and the Son through the Holy Spirit is the gift of sanctifying grace that is infused in us in baptism. The Catechism of the Catholic Church informs us: “Sanctifying grace is an habitual gift, a stable and supernatural disposition that perfects the soul itself to enable it to live with God, to act by his love. Habitual grace, the permanent disposition to live and act in keeping with God’s call, is distinguished from actual graces which refer to God’s interventions, whether at the beginning of conversion or in the course of the work ofsanctification.” (CCC 2000) We have the work of conversion to do to be sanctified and to prepare for the coming of the Lord into our hearts but we cannot do it alone. St. Augustine reminds us: “Indeed we also work, but we are only collaborating with God who works, for his mercy has gone before us. It has gone before us so that we may be healed, and follows us so that once healed, we may be given life; it goes before us so that we may be called, and follows us so that we may be glorified; it goes before us so that we may live devoutly, and follows us so that we may always live with God: for without him we can do nothing.” St. Paul reminds us of this gift: “But now that you have been freed from sin and have become slaves of God, the benefit that you have leads to sanctification, and its end is eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Rom 6,22f)
St. Peter is his letter to the Church exhorts us: “Beloved: Sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts. Always be ready to give an explanation to anyone who asks you for a reason for your hope, but do it with gentleness and reverence, keeping your conscience clear.” (1Pt 3,15f) The reason for our hope is that Jesus Christ dwells within us, in our hearts, through the Holy Spirit of Love and Truth. The true “shelter at home” is the indwelling presence of the Lord in our hearts. The Holy Spirit is the master of the interior life. He orders our interior life to cooperate with God’s graces and be sanctified. With the Lord dwelling in our hearts we do not need to fear the virus of sin. Death will not touch us for the gift and grace of God is eternal life in his glorious presence.