Jesus said, “They who have my commandments and keep them are those who love me; and those who love me will be loved by my Father, and I will love them and reveal myself to them.” Judas (not Iscariot) said to him, “Lord, how is it that you will reveal yourself to us, and not to the world?” Jesus answered him, “Those who love me will keep my word, and my Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them. Whoever does not love me does not keep my words; and the word that you hear is not mine, but is from the Father who sent me.
The word ‘abide’ is used repeatedly in the part of John's gospel that we are reading at Mass these times (10 times in verses 1 to 10 of chapter 15). It is variously translated as ‘live’ and ‘remain’ and 'make your home'. It is a beautiful word. It was a word much beloved of Meister Eckhart. He wrote, “It is not right to love God for His heaven's sake, or for the sake of anything at all; but we should love Him for the goodness that He is in Himself. For whoever loves him for anything else does not abide in Him, but abides in the thing he is loving Him for. If, therefore, you want to abide in Him, you must love Him for nothing but Himself.”
That is how a person behaves at home: we love the people there for their own sakes, not for what we can get from them. Saint Teresa of Ávila said she would like to close down both heaven and hell, so that people would do good for its own sake, not because of greed or fear, and would love God for God's own sake. That would be abiding in God.
Equally, the Trinity abides in us. “Those who love me will keep my word, and my Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them.” He promised too to send the Holy Spirit. This means that the Trinity lives in us. And we in the Trinity.
How did we get the idea that God was distant from us? I suppose it was because many people spoke to us about God and neglected to mention that “God is love”. Love brings near. Fear separates, it makes you want to run away. How terrible that we run away from our very Source like frightened animals! How terrible that we feel like strangers and exiles from our own home, our abode.
In the immortal story that Jesus told about the Prodigal Son, the father saw his son “while he was yet a long way off…and was moved to pity. He ran to the boy, clasped him in his arms and kissed him tenderly.” Then he gave him the best robe and put a ring on his finger. This ring symbolised that he was a true son, and not a servant as he wanted to be. That was Jesus describing God our Father. How then could we ever have imagined that God was distant from us? Even when we try to make ourselves distant from God, God remains close to us. To quote Meister Eckhart again, “You need not seek Him here or there, God is no further than the door of your heart; there He stands patiently awaiting whoever is ready to open up and let Him in. No need to call to Him from afar: He can hardly wait for you to open up. He longs for you a thousand times more than you long for Him.”
‘Abide’. It is a word you might use to describe what you are doing in meditation: you are abiding, you are making your home in Christ, you are within his mind. You are in God and God is in you. You are in your true home.
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