How can living like Jesus help us find a home?

Through faith in God, Christians come to their true homeland. This week’s readings speak of that journey. In the first reading, a new king fulfills the hopes of generations of Jewish slaves and allows them to return home from captivity in Babylon. In the second reading, St. Paul reflects on the saving grace of God, who offers a place forever at Christ’s side to any who believe. In the Gospel, Jesus reveals the content of this faith, which is to live according to his teaching and example.

Advertisement

‘Whoever lives the truth comes to the light.’ (Jn 3:21)

Liturgical day
Fourth Sunday of Lent (B)
Readings
2 Chr 36:14-23, Ps 137, Eph 2:4-10, Jn 3:14-21
Prayer

 

Describe your own experience of being in "exile.”

How can living like Christ help you find a home in God?

In Scripture, this journey often starts in exile. The biblical patriarchs were nomads who wandered the southern Levant and northern Egypt. David took flight from Saul’s wrath and lived for some time among the Philistines. Elijah hid from Ahab and Jezebel in the desert of Horeb. The Israelites lost their homeland twice, first to the Assyrians and then to the Babylonians. The first reading documents the beginnings of the return from the Babylonian exile, but as one empire succeeded another, even those who returned felt like strangers in their own land. In every biblical age, it was only those who maintained their faith who found their way home again.

Early Christians identified with this tradition. The author of the Letter to the Hebrews compares the Christians of his day to the biblical patriarchs, who “acknowledged themselves to be strangers and aliens on earth” (11:13). In a similar way, the first letter of Peter uses the word exiles as a metaphor for Christians, and an unidentified writer of the early second century speaks of Christians as people who “dwell on earth, but are citizens of heaven.”

From one perspective, Jesus embodied this sense of rootlessness. His home was always somewhere else. Matthew and Luke never quite sorted out whether he was from Bethlehem or Nazareth, and his return to the latter as an adult was a fiasco. Even his adopted city of Capernaum offered him resistance. After wandering for some time, he met his end in Jerusalem, a place he had never called home.

From another perspective, however, Jesus was always at home. People everywhere welcomed him. He had extraordinary confidence in the generosity of others. Wherever he went, friends and even strangers met his needs. Jesus’ sense of being at home in the world lived on in his disciples when they went out on mission, and it is reflected in the writings of the same second-century author quoted above, who says of Christians that “every foreign city is a fatherland; every fatherland a foreign city.”

 

Jesus’ true home was the presence of his Father, a fact especially clear in John’s Gospel, and in today’s Gospel reading John teaches us how to find our home in the same presence. To “come to the light,” we must “live in the truth.” John illustrates the truth with Jesus’ commandment to love one another and with the example he gave by washing his disciples’ feet and becoming a servant to all. We join Jesus “at home” when we live by the same teaching and example. This is the opportunity that Lent provides. As we turn away from our attachments and live out the truth that Christ taught us, we find ourselves at home in divine light wherever we go.

PRAYING WITH SCRIPTURE

Describe your own experience of being in ”exile.”

How can living like Christ help you find a home in God?

Comments are automatically closed two weeks after an article's initial publication. See our comments policy for more.

Advertisement

The latest from america

Whatever we give—time, resources, skills, attention—the offering ought to be like the widow’s: complete, courageous and with total trust in grace.
Michael SimoneOctober 19, 2018
Jesus drew on the biblical meaning of love, commanding unwavering loyalty to God and neighbor.
Michael SimoneOctober 19, 2018
The Evangelists had come to believe that Jesus was indeed the bearer of divine authority.
Michael SimoneOctober 05, 2018
Mark’s community found themselves waiting for deliverance during a time of great distress.
Michael SimoneOctober 05, 2018