Glory Built in the Dark

“Let not your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in Me” (John 14:1).

Friday’s Gospel reading is one of the most poignant passages in Scripture. After telling the Apostles at the Last Supper that He is about to leave them, He tries to console them.

Every time you feel abandoned by God, these are verses to cling to. God does not “withdraw” except to create a future of supreme joy and wonder and peace, a home from which you will never be exiled, in which you will never be hurt:

“In My Father’s household there are many dwellings [monai, the fulfillment of the quintessential Christian characteristic of hupomone]. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you?” (v. 2).

God does not envelop us in the darkness of godforsakenness for any other reason than to make our hearts more receptive to Trinitarian indwelling, which is simultaneously our being enveloped in the heaven of Trinitarian love:

“And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to Myself, so that where I AM you also may be” (v. 3).

Indeed, Jesus never actually leaves us. It’s just that His proceeding and returning to the Father must bridge eternity and history. The Son is nothing other than the Eucharistic pulsation between heaven and hell.

So, though the Father may at times seem very far away, Jesus is in Himself the Way that touches the Father:

“‘And where I go, you know the way.’ Thomas said to Him, ‘Lord, we do not know where You are going. How can we know the way?’ Jesus said to him, ‘I AM the Way and the Truth and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through Me’” (vv. 4-7).

When we feel abandoned, and the Father seems more distant than the quasars on the edge of space, Jesus is with us in the abyss of godforsakenness, spanning all the worlds of space and time and agony to tether us to a joy that is long in its coming, but forever in its staying.

As we cling to Jesus on the Cross, the timber of our despair, unobtrusively, becomes first a ladder, then a mansion of the good Father’s prodigality.