If it please the king, and if your servant is deserving of your favor, send me to Judah, to the city where my ancestors are buried, that I may rebuild it. (Nehemiah 2:5)
Foxes have dens and birds of the sky have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to rest his head. (Luke 9:58)
The two readings today present us with a contrast, even a paradox: In the first, we read about the re-building of the Jerusalem temple, the earthly dwelling place of the Lord under the Old Covenant. Then, in the gospel reading, the Lord says that He has no place to rest His head.
Where does God dwell? We know the manifold answer: He exists universally as the cause of everything. His image shines forth in the spiritual dimension of man. He pours out His grace and mercifully unites souls to Himself. He dwells personally in Christ, Who abides with us in the Blessed Sacrament of the altar. In heaven, He fills the blessed with Himself in an unending consummation of love.
Perhaps this thought will help to resolve the paradox presented by the two readings: God has no place to rest His head on earth, not because the earth is not His—it is His; He made it, sustains it, consecrates it, and moves it to its fulfillment. But He has no rest on earth, both because He altogether transcends His creation, and because His will for the salvation of every soul consumes Him with zeal and peripatetic restlessness. The Lord has no rest on earth until everyone rests in Him.
So…the Lord dwells in our humble church. Nowhere between Martinsville and Roanoke, or between Danville and Stuart, does the Lord dwell like He dwells in our tabernacle, and on the altar during Mass. We cannot get through life without coming to Christ’s holy dwelling to commune with Him.
But we cannot rest in church anymore than He can. We come to His house, He takes up His dwelling in us, and then He propels us into the great mix outside. He sends us on His mission, because He wills to dwell in everyone as He has been pleased to dwell in us.
When everything is said and done, please God, we will enter forever into the Lord’s dwelling, and we will find rest unlike any peace we have known on earth. In the meantime, though, we cannot rest until everyone dwells in the love of Christ.