The Word Among Us

Prayer Resources

God’s Dwelling Place

Luke 1:39-45

By: Pope Benedict XVI

On the eve of his passion, taking leave of his disciples, the Lord said, "In my Father’s house are many rooms. . . . I go to prepare a place for you."

By saying, "I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be done to me according to your word," Mary prepared God’s dwelling here on earth; with her body and soul, she became his dwelling place and thereby opened the earth to heaven.

In the gospel we have just heard, St. Luke, with various allusions, makes us understand that Mary is the true Ark of the Covenant, that the mystery of the Temple—God’s dwelling place here on earth—is fulfilled in Mary. God, who became present here on earth, truly dwells in Mary. Mary becomes his tent. What all the cultures desire—that God dwell among us—is brought about here.

St. Augustine says, "Before conceiving the Lord in her body, she had already conceived him in her soul." She had made room for the Lord in her soul, and thus really became the true temple where God made himself incarnate, where he became present on this earth.

Thus, being God’s dwelling place on earth, in her the eternal dwelling place has already been prepared; it has already been prepared forever. And this constitutes the whole content of the dogma of the assumption of Mary, body and soul, into heavenly glory, expressed here in these words. Mary is "blessed" because—totally, in body and soul and forever—she became the Lord’s dwelling place. If this is true, Mary does not merely invite our admiration and veneration, but she guides us, shows us the way of life, shows us how we can become blessed, how to find the path of happiness.

Let us listen once again to Elizabeth’s words fulfilled in Mary’s Magnificat: "Blessed is she who believed." The first and fundamental act in order to become a dwelling place of God and thus find definitive happiness is to believe: it is faith, faith in God, in that God who showed himself in Jesus Christ and makes himself heard in the divine Word of holy Scripture.

Believing is not adding one opinion to others. And the conviction, the belief, that God exists is not information like any other. Regarding most information, it makes no difference to us whether it is true or false; it does not change our lives. But if God does not exist, life is empty, the future is empty. And if God exists, everything changes, life is light, our future is light, and we have guidance for how to live. Therefore, believing constitutes the fundamental orientation of our life. To believe, to say: "Yes, I believe that you are God; I believe that you are present among us in the incarnate Son," gives my life a direction, impels me to be attached to God, to unite with God, and so to find my dwelling place, and the way to live.

—Homily, August 15, 2006

Click here to purchase "The Joy of Knowing Christ".