This summer, my brothers and sisters helped our mother move. It was our mother who initiated the move. She knew it was time for a little less stress and worry, and, at 88 years old, was ready for assisted living. Besides this amazing attitude about moving, what equally amazed us was her utter freedom from things, beautiful as they are. She knew what she wanted to take with her and what others were free to take, the rest to be sold or given away.
Her home was never confused for the house she lived in. Houses served as a place to create a home. As the need changed over time, as with the addition of children, the house changed. She really was a "homemaker" in the very best sense of that identity. It was never about the house or the things that filled it, but about making a home, wherever that may have been.
From one of the shortest books of the Bible (two chapters), we hear today the Prophet Haggai encourage the rebuilding of the Temple after its destruction and the Babylonian exile. The Temple represents God’s presence among the people; it is God at home among his people. Yet the people, Haggai says, are not happy because they have pinned their meaning to things – their paneled houses, their crops, their food and drink, their clothes, their money. But to them he says, "you have not been satisfied …exhilarated … kept warm … or secure." The Temple is where God makes his home. The Temple is the house; God is our home, and it was a home that the people needed to create for their God.
This reminds me of the opening chapter of the Gospel of John: "And the Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us." The Word of God, Jesus, made his dwelling, his home among us. Jesus did not build a house among us. He was at home among us – and not only among us, but in us. Sister Lucretia’s admonition in fourth grade to be "temples of the Holy Spirit" actually makes more sense now than it did then.
I hope I never confuse my home with the house I live in. Rather I hope my home is where I find myself in relationship with Christ who desires to dwell in me, who wants so much to be at home within me. Where I live or work, what I have or own are only gifts that I hope help create a home where I can encounter Christ.
My mother’s move to a new house was not moving her home at all. Her attitude reminded us that her home is where she is, wherever she is. Perhaps in helping her with her move, I have moved to a deeper understanding that my home is when Christ makes his home within me.
Robert Hotz is a consultant with American City Bureau, Inc. and is the Director of The Passion of Christ: The Love That Compels Campaign for Holy Cross Province.