Let not your heart be troubled:1 believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you, that I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I come again, and will receive you unto Myself; that where I am, there ye may be also (Jn 14:1–3).
We must lift ourselves up, my brethren, to God with greater intentness, that as the words of the holy Gospel have now sounded in our ears, we may also in whatever sort be able to take them in with the mind. For the Lord Jesus says, “Let not your heart be troubled. Believe in God, believe also in Me.” So that they might not as men fear death, and therefore be troubled, He consoles them, assuring them that He is also God. “Believe,” says He, “in God, and believe in Me.” For it follows, that if you believe in God, you ought also to believe in Me: which would not follow, if Christ were not God. Believe in God, and believe in Him to Whom it is nature, not robbery, to be equal with God: for He emptied Himself, yet not losing the form of God, but taking the form of a servant. You fear death for this form of a servant: let not your heart be troubled; the form of God shall raise that to life again.
But what is this that follows, “In My Father’s house are many mansions,” but, that they were also afraid for themselves? Wherefore it was meet to be said to them, “Let not your heart be troubled.” For which of them would not be afraid, when to Peter, the more confident and forward, it was said, “The cock shall not crow until you have denied Me three times?” As if then they must perish from Him, with good reason were they troubled: but when they are told, “In the house of My Father are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you, that I go to prepare a place for you,” they are refreshed from their perturbation, assured and confident that even after perils of temptations they shall dwell where Christ is, with God. For albeit one be stronger than another, one wiser than another, one more righteous than another, one holier than another; in the Father’s house are many mansions; none of them shall be estranged from that house; where there shall be a mansion for each according to his deserving. True, they all equally receive that penny which the Householder commands to be given to all them which have wrought in the vineyard; in that, making no distinction who have labored less and who more: by which penny of course is signified eternal life, where none lives more than other, because living hath no diverse measure in eternity. But the many mansions signify the diverse dignities of merits in the one life eternal. For there is one glory of the sun, another glory of the moon, another glory of the stars: for one star differs from another star in glory; so also is the resurrection of the dead. As the stars, the saints have allotted unto them diverse mansions of diverse glory: as those in the firmament, so they in the kingdom; but as touching the one penny, none is separated from the kingdom: and so shall God be all in all, that, since God is love, by love it shall come to pass, that what they severally have shall be common to all. For so is each one himself the haver, when he loves in the other what himself hath not. So shall there not be any invidiousness of unequal glory, since the unity of charity shall reign in all.
Therefore they are to be rejected from a Christian heart, who imagine that this saying of the many mansions means, that without the kingdom of heaven there will be some condition wherein may dwell the blessed innocents who have departed this life without baptism, seeing that without it they shall not be able to enter into the kingdom of heaven. This faith is not faith, because it is not the true and catholic faith. What? ye foolish people and blinded with carnal imaginations, whereas ye would deserve to be reprobated, if ye should separate from the kingdom of heaven the mansion, I do not say of Peter or of Paul or of any of the Apostles, but of any soever baptized little one, do ye not think ye deserve to be reprobated, that ye separate therefrom the House of God the Father? For the Lord saith not, In the whole world, or, In the whole creation, or, In the Life or Bliss everlasting, are many mansions, but, In My Father’s house are many mansions. Is not this the house where we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens? Is not this the house, of which we sing to the Lord, Blessed are they that dwell in Thine house; for ever and ever they shall praise Thee? And will ye then dare to separate from the kingdom of heaven, not the house of any baptized brother, but the house of God the Father Himself, to Whom all we the brethren say, Our Father, Which art in heaven; or dare so to divide it, that some of its mansions shall be in the kingdom of heaven, others out of the kingdom of heaven? God forbid! forbid it, that they who wish to dwell in the kingdom of heaven, should wish to dwell with you in this foolishness; forbid it, I say, that whereas every house of reigning sons cannot be elsewhere than in the kingdom, of the royal house itself there should be some part not in the kingdom.
And if I go 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 already there are many mansions in Thy Father’s house, where Thine shall dwell with Thee? Or, if Thou receivest them to Thyself, how comest Thou again, Who goest not hence? These things, my beloved, if we shall essay to expound briefly, as much as seems enough for to-day’s discourse, being crowded they will surely not be cleared up, and the very brevity will be fresh obscurity: therefore let us defer this debt, to pay it you at a more convenient season, as the Father of our household shall bestow the ability.
St. Augustine, Homilies on the Gospel according to St. John, and His First Epistle: Hom. 1–124, S. John 1–21 and Hom. 1–10, 1 S. John, vol. 1 & 2, A Library of Fathers of the Holy Catholic Church, Anterior to the Division of the East and West: Translated by Members of the English Church (Oxford; London: John Henry Parker; F. and J. Rivington, 1848–1849), 769–773.