19 May 2019
Fifth Sunday of Easter
Easter 5C (RCL)
I think we are a little surprised to hear Jesus say, “Where I am going, you cannot come.” Just a chapter further on, he will say, “In my father’s house are many dwelling places (rest stops). If it were not so, I would not have told you that I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go to prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to myself, so that where I am you also may be. Where I am going, you know the way.”
So, which is it: you cannot come, or you know the way? Way back in chapter 1, when two of John’s disciples follow Jesus, he asks them, “What do you seek?” and they reply, “Rabbi, where do you remain?” He invites them, “Come and see.” In this passage, he says, “You will seek me; where I am going, you cannot come.” This reverses the invitation to those first disciples. However, at the end of the Gospel, he will tell Mary Magdalene, “Go and tell my brothers (and sisters) that I am embarking to my Father and your Father, my God and your God.” We are invited to set out on a journey with Jesus to God, knowing that Jesus tabernacles among us.
In the reading from Revelation, we are told that the tabernacle of God is among mortals. John (and the Revelation has certain resonances with the Johannine literature) is telling us that God is not at the end of the journey, but along the way. The Christian life is a journey characterized by love.
The reading from Acts tells us that some of the people we encounter along the way will know more about God that we thought we did; the rules that we use to keep people out are not God’s rules. We encounter Jesus when we entrust our lives to one another along the journey. When we shift our attention from the Temple as destination to the tabernacle as presence on the journey, we are never away from God.