The Light of the World

Some years again when reflecting on the story of Zacchaeus, the tax collector, I imagined, in my prayer, that I was Zacchaeus in the tree and Jesus stood looking up at me and saying to me “I want to stay at your house”. My reply to him was “I have no home”. It is true that as a priest I have moved from presbytery to presbytery, from place to place. The last place I called home was when I lived with my Mum and Dad and brothers and sister in Clapham before I went away to school. I was part of a family.

I had a sense of belonging. Many people in life move many times, because of their job or perhaps they have traveller blood in them and are always on the move. The first words of today’s gospel are ‘If anyone loves me he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we shall come to him and make our home with him.” The loving Father, Jesus our brother and the Advocate, the Spirit desires to make their home with us. They wish to abide or live in us. Home is a  relationship of love. Am I willing and ready to welcome God into my home, that is into my heart.? Am I prepared to allow God to live or abide in me?

We are very familiar with Holman Hunt’s painting “The Light of the World.” A copy can be seen in St. Paul’s Cathedral. It shows the figure of Jesus preparing to knock on an overgrown and long-unopened door, illustrating Revelation 3:20 “Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if any man hear My voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will eat with him, and he with Me”. The door in the painting has no handle, and can therefore be opened only from the inside. Jesus might be persistent in his knocking at the door of our heart but will come in when invited. We need to open the door.

This coming Thursday we celebrate the feast of the Ascension and before he returned to the Father, Jesus promised that the disciples would receive the power of the Holy Spirit. The nine days between the Ascension and Pentecost is an ideal time to invite the Father, Son and Spirit into us so that they make a home in us.
Each day I suggest that you could payer this prayer of St Augustine to the Holy Spirit.

Breathe into me, Holy Spirit, that my thoughts may all be holy.
Move in me, Holy Spirit, that my work, too, may be holy.
Attract my heart, Holy Spirit, that I may love only what is holy.
Strengthen me, Holy Spirit, that I may defend all that is holy.
Protect me, Holy Spirit, that I may be holy

Canon Father Anthony Charlton
Canon Father Anthony CharltonParish Priest