Early Church Fathers
John XIV. 1-3.
1.Our special attention, brethren, must be earnestly turned to God, in order that we may be able to obtain some intelligent apprehension of the words of the holy Gospel, which have just been ringing in our ears. For the Lord Jesus saith: "Let not your heart be troubled. Believe1 in God, and believe [or, believe also] in me." That they might not as men be afraid of death, and so be troubled, He comforts them by affirming Himself also to be God. "Believe," He says, "in God, believe also in me." For it follows as a consequence, that if ye believe in God, ye ought to believe also in me: which were no consequence if Christ were not God. "Believe in God, and believe in" Him, who, by nature and not by robbery, is equal with God; for He emptied Himself; not, however, by losing the form of God, but by taking the form of a servant.2 You are afraid of death as regards this servant form, "let not your heart be troubled," the form of God will raise it again.
2. But why have we this that follows, "In my Father's house are many mansions," but that they were also in fear about themselves? And therein they might have heard the words, "Let not your heart be troubled." For, was there any of them that could be free from fear, when Peter, the most confident and forward of them all, was told, "The cock shall not crow till thou hast denied me thrice"?3 Considering themselves, therefore, beginning with Peter, as destined to perish, they had cause to be troubled: but when they now hear, "In my Father's house are many mansions:if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you," they are revived from their trouble, made certain and confident that after all the perils of temptations they shall dwell with Christ in the presence of God. For, albeit one is stronger than another, one wiser than another, one more righteous than another, "in the Father's house there are many mansions;" none of them shall remain outside that house, where every one, according to his deserts, is to receive a mansion. All alike have that penny, which the householder orders to be given to all that have wrought in the vineyard, making no distinction therein between those who have labored less and those who have labored more:4 by which penny, of course, is signified eternal life, whereto no one any longer lives to a different length than others, since in eternity life has no diversity in its measure. But the many mansions point to the different grades of merit in that one eternal life. For there is one glory of the sun, another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars: for one star differeth from another star in glory; and so also the resurrection of the dead. The saints, like the stars in the sky, obtain in the kingdom different mansions of diverse degrees of brightness; but on account of that one penny no one is cut off from the kingdom; and God will be all in all5 in such a way, that, as God is love,6 love will bring it about that what is possessed by each will be common to all. For in this way every one really possesses it, when he loves to see in another what he has not himself. There will not, therefore, be any envying amid this diversity of brightness, since in all of them will be reigning the unity of love.
3. Every Christian heart, therefore, must utterly reject the idea of those who imagine that there are many mansions spoken of, because there will be some place outside the kingdom of heaven, which shall be the abode of those blessed innocents who have departed this life without baptism, because without it they cannot enter the kingdom of heaven. Faith like this is not faith, inasmuch as it is not the true and catholic faith. Are you not so foolish and blinded with carnal imaginations as to be worthy of reprobation, if you should thus separate the mansion, I say not of Peter and Paul, or any of the apostles, but even of any baptized infant from the kingdom of heaven; do you not think yourselves deserving of reprobation in thus putting a separation between these and the house of God the Father? For the Lord's words are not, In the whole world, or, In all creation, or, In everlasting life and blessedness, there are many mansions; but He says, "In my Father's house are many mansions." Is not that the house where we have a building of God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens?7 Is not that the house whereof we sing to the Lord, "Blessed are they that dwell in Thy house; they shall praise Thee for ever and ever"?8 Will you then venture to separate from the kingdom of heaven the house, not of every baptized brother, but of God the Father Himself, to whom all we who are brethren say, "Our Father, who art in heaven,"9 or divide it in such a way as to make some of its mansions inside, and some outside, the kingdom of heaven? Far, far be it from those who desire to dwell in the kingdom of heaven, to be willing to dwell in such folly with you: far be it, I say, that since every house of sons that are reigning can be nowhere else but in the kingdom, any part of the royal house itself should be outside the kingdom.
4."And if I go," He says "and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also. And whither I go ye know, and the way ye know." O Lord Jesus, how goest Thou to prepare a place, if there are already many mansions in Thy Father's house, where Thy people shall dwell with Thyself? Or if Thou receivest them unto Thyself, how wilt Thou come again, who never withdrawest Thy presence? Such subjects as these, beloved, were we to attempt to explain them with such brevity as seems within the proper bounds of our discourse to-day, would certainly suffer in clearness from compression, and the very brevity would become itself a second obscurity; we shall therefore deferthis debt, which the bounty of our Family head will enable us to repay at a more suitable opportunity.