How distant is God? Looking up at the night sky, the answer might seem to be “infinitely.”
But today’s Scripture readings give the opposite answer. God is infinitely close, these texts say, and — comparing infinities — wants to be even closer.
At the Last Supper, Jesus tells his disciples, “Whoever loves me will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our dwelling with him” (Jn 14:23).
The God who numbers and names the stars, because he has created them (see Ps 147:4), will come to live in those who receive his Son.
Father and Son will be in us, Jesus says, by the Holy Spirit whom “the Father will send in my name.” The Spirit “remains with you, and will be in you” (Jn 14:26, 17). The Spirit who knows God from within as God knows himself makes his home in us, in the secret place in which each of us knows himself as the person he is, herself as the person she is.
Deeper than the memory of my mother with me as a little boy, deeper than my knowledge of my wife in her love for me, deeper than my consciousness of myself — there, in the hidden depths, is God.
What response can anyone make to the infinitely present God?
Words? Silence? What can the incomprehensible depths of oneself say to the incomprehensible depths of God? And yet, how can the child not speak with its Father?
In response to God’s coming down from the heights into the depths of you and me, the greatest self-sacrifice would be insufficient, yet the simplest conversational prayer is totally right.
And beyond this, the author of the Book of Revelation tells us of a vision of the coming of God’s new creation. It appears to him symbolically as a city. “I saw no temple in the city,” he reports, “for its temple is the Lord God almighty and the Lamb” (Rv 21:22).
A temple is a meeting place, a location where deity and humanity can come together. In the new creation, there will be no need of such locations. God and humanity will be together, face to face.
God’s present hidden dwelling within us will reach glorious and loving completion.
How far or near does God seem to you? Take a few minutes to become quiet and still, and speak to him about this.