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January 2010

(Original version January 1999)

See, the home of God is among mortals. He will dwell with them; they will be his people, and God himself will be with them (Rev. 21:3)

This month's Word of Life is a challenge: if we want to be part of his people, we must allow him to live among us.

But how is this possible, and what can we do in order to have some foretaste, while still on earth, of the endless joy we will have in the vision of God? This is exactly what Jesus revealed to us; it is the very meaning of his coming: to communicate his life of love with the Father, so that we too can live it.

We Christians can live these words even now and have God among us. To have him among us, as the Fathers of the Church make clear, there are certain conditions. For Basil, it is about living according to God's will; for John Chrysostom, it is loving our neighbour as Jesus did; for Theodore the Studite, it is mutual love; and for Origen, it is harmony in thought and in feeling, so as to reach that concord which 'unites, and contains the Son of God'.1

In Jesus' teachings there is the key for allowing God to dwell among us: 'Love one another as I have loved you' (see Jn 13:34). Mutual love is the key to the presence of God. 'If we love one another, God lives in us,' (1 Jn 4:12), because, as Jesus says, 'where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them' (Mt 18:20).

God will dwell with them; they will be his people.

Not so far off or unattainable, then, is the day when all the promises of the Old Testament will be fulfilled: 'My dwelling-place shall be with them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people' (Ez.37:27).

It is all happening already in Jesus who continues, beyond his historical existence, to be present among those who live according to the new law of mutual love, the principle that makes them a people, the people of God.

This Word of Life is therefore an urgent appeal, especially to us Christians, to witness through love to the presence of God. 'By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another' (Jn 13: 35). This living out of the new commandment lays the basis for the presence of Jesus among people.

We cannot do anything unless this presence is guaranteed, a presence which gives meaning to the supernatural fraternity that Jesus brought on earth for all humanity.

God will dwell with them; they will be his people.

But it is up to us, Christians, even though we belong to different church communities, to let the world see 'one people' made up of every ethnic group, race, and culture, old and young, sick and healthy. One people about which others can say, as they did of the first Christians: 'See how they love one another and are ready to give their lives for one another'.

This is the 'miracle' humanity is waiting for in order to regain hope. It will also give an essential help to progress in ecumenism, the journey towards full and visible unity among Christians. It's a 'miracle' within our reach, or better, the reach of the One who, dwelling among his own united by love, can change the destiny of the world and lead all humanity towards unity.

Chiara Lubich

1. Commentary on Matthew, XIII, 15 (PG 13: 1131).

 

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