Jesus has two different ways to present His departure during the last supper in the Gospel of Saint John. He speaks of the mansions or places of the Father and then speaks about how it is good for Him to leave so that the Holy Spirit can come. There is a separation from Christ that is not due to sin, it is due to His own initiative and in order to strengthen our hearts. There is at the same time a leaving of Christ and a coming of the Holy Spirit. If we allow Christ to leave He prepares a place for us in the bosom of the Father. This place in the Bosom of the Father we begin to inhabit already by the new presence of the Holy Spirit.
The mystery of the substantial gift in Love is asked of us as we release our hold on Jesus in faith. The human way of holding on to Jesus must be loosened: that grasp on the earthly consolation that comes from the warmth of His words and the tenderness of His heart. Faith is the only act that will truly set us free, and Christ wants us to give Him back to the Father, because in that return gift the Holy Spirit is born in our hearts. In that way we can understand and live the mystery of the Ascension as a preparation for Pentecost.
But why has he gone away to prepare it, if it is ourselves that he prepares? If he leaves us, how can he prepare us? The meaning is that in order that those mansions may be prepared, the just must live by faith … and if you see, there is no faith.… Let Christ go away then so that he is not seen. Let him remain concealed that faith may be exercised. Then a place is prepared if you live by faith. Let faith desire so that the place desired may itself be possessed. The longing of love is the preparation of the mansion.1
When he says, therefore, “That where I am, there you may be also,” where else were they to be but in himself? In this way he is also in himself, and they, therefore, are just where he is, that is, in himself. Accordingly, he himself is that eternal life that is yet to be ours, when he has received us unto himself. As he is that life eternal, so is it in him, that where he is there shall we be also, that is to say, in himself. “For as the Father has life in himself”—and certainly that life that he has is in no way different from what he is himself as its possessor—“so has he given to the Son to have life in himself.”24 This is so because he is the very life that he has in himself. But will we then actually be what he is, [namely], the life when we begin our existence in that life, that is, in himself? Certainly not, for he, by his very existence as the life, has life. He is himself what he has. And just as the life is in him, so he is in himself. But we are not that life. We are partakers of his life. And we shall be there in such a way as to be wholly incapable of being in ourselves what he is. But even while we ourselves are not the life, we will be able to have him as our life. And he himself has life because of the very fact that he himself is the life.2
The Lord said they knew the place to which and the way whereby he was going. Thomas declares he does not know either the place or the way. But Thomas does not know he is speaking falsely. They knew, but they did not know that they knew. Jesus, however, will convince them of what they already know even though they themselves imagine that they are ignorant about it.3
- Tractates on the Gospel of John 68.3. Elowsky, J. C. (Ed.). (2007). John 11–21 (p. 122). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
- TRACTATES ON THE GOSPEL OF JOHN 70.1. Elowsky, J. C. (Ed.). (2007). John 11–21 (p. 123). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
- TRACTATES ON THE GOSPEL OF JOHN 69.1. Elowsky, J. C. (Ed.). (2007). John 11–21 (p. 123). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.