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Do I Understand “My Father’s House?”


In the second chapter of the Gospel of John, there is a verse that the disciples attribute to Jesus as he drives out money lenders and sellers of sheep and cattle from the temple in Jerusalem: “Stop making my Father’s house a marketplace!” [John 2:16]. The thought that most hit me was “our common home is also God’s own house, permeated by the Spirit of God from the dawn of creation, where the Son of God pitched his tent in the supreme event of the incarnation.

My Father’s House

On the eve of what Pope Francis calls Laudato Si Week marking the 5th Anniversary of his landmark  (pun intended) encyclical on the environment  Laudoto Si, he wrote four statements that stopped me in my tracks and made me think more deeply.
  • Today, we could, and probably we should, understand this house as our common planetary home. It is this common home which is being despoiled and desecrated today. Significantly, our common home is also God’s own house, permeated by the Spirit of God from the dawn of creation, where the Son of God pitched his tent in the supreme event of the incarnation. It is in this common home that God co-dwells with humanity and of which we have been entrusted with stewardship, as we read in the book of Genesis [2:15].
  • The contemporary ecological crisis, in fact, lays bare precisely our incapacity to perceive the physical world as impregnated with divine presenceWe have swapped the lofty vision of the physical world as God’s own abode, sanctified by the incarnation of the Son of God, with the one-dimensional mechanistic outlook of modernity.
  • Accordingly, the physical world gets reduced to a mere storehouse of resources for human consumption, just real estate for market speculation. . . . Through pollution of the planet’s land, air, and waters, we have degraded our common home that is also God’s own home. We have turned this sacred abode into a marketplace.
  • In a situation of planetary emergency like the collapse of our planetary abode, we need to be aflame once again with the zeal for our common home.
Pope Francis writes… “I do not want to write this encyclical without turning to that attractive and compelling figure, whose name I took as my guide and inspiration when I was elected Bishop of Rome. I believe that Saint Francis is the example par excellence of care for the vulnerable and of an integral ecology lived out joyfully and authentically. I don’t think I ever will read the story about ”My Father’s House” in John’s Gospel solely from that vantage of the “good guys”again.

About “My Father’s House”…

  • Is my concept of “my father’s house” too small?
  • Do I need to enlarge how I think of “my father’s house?”
  • And then the Vincentian Question: What must be done?

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