“Behold, I am sending my messenger ahead of you;
he will prepare your way before you.
Amen, I say to you,
among those born of women
there has been none greater than John the Baptist;
yet the least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he." (MT 11:10-11)
Conventional wisdom in buying a house is to choose the least expensive property that meets your criteria in the most expensive neighborhood possible. While this strategy may not work in all cases, it is usually better than the converse: the highest-priced house in an area with houses of lower value. A paraphrase of the above scripture could be: “there has been none greater than the biggest mansion on Earth, yet the least of the dwellings in Heaven is greater”.
Although greatness can be measured on Earth using status, property and net worth, there is a different metric in Heaven: the least and the greatest share perfect light, happiness and peace in the Kingdom of God, and every dwelling place has equal and infinite value. In some translations of the Bible, the structures that God has made for each resident of Heaven are referred to as mansions. The following scripture passage outlines what awaits us in the Kingdom of God:
“Do not let your hearts be troubled. You have faith in God; have faith also in me. In my Father’s house there are many dwelling places. If there were not, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back again and take you to myself, so that where I am you also may be. (John 14:2-3)
In biblical times, during the period of betrothal, it was customary for the bridegroom to build a house on a section of his father’s property for his intended. The betrothal period, sometimes lasting years, was a time of preparation that would culminate with the completion of the house, and the coming of the bridegroom. Being in a state of readiness to meet Christ when He comes can be compared to the five wise virgins in the parable:
“Then the kingdom of heaven shall be compared to ten maidens who took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish, and five were wise. For when the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them; but the wise took flasks of oil with their lamps. As the bridegroom was delayed, they all slumbered and slept. But at midnight there was a cry, ‘Behold, the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.’
From “Black Friday” until Christmas day, the greatness of commerce can eclipse the small acts of love and devotion that begin in the quiet of our hearts, and are made manifest in our daily lives. During Advent, as we prepare for the arrival of Jesus during the Christmas season, let us pray for our “flasks of oil” to be full, and to keep the lamps of our faith alive in our hearts.