“What are you looking for?’ they said to him, “Rabbi (which translated means teacher) “where are you staying?’ He said to them, ‘Come and you will see. –John 1:35
WHERE shall we find God? In a distant space? In a sacred place? In the desert, the sea, or on a mountaintop? Where does he dwell? In each of us is a longing to see God, to feel his presence, to connect with him.
Many saints found or experienced him in silent prayer or liturgy. Some found him in the faces of the heartbroken, the poor, the lonely, and the sick. They found him in the acts of serving, loving, and reconciling.
But do we realize that we can find God within us, in the depths of our hearts and souls where selfless love and genuine care for our loved ones ooze? In the activities of our hearts where we feel the passion of a relationship, we can feel his presence. These happen even in ordinary days and ways.
It can happen in the early morning when you prepare lunchboxes for your kids on their way to school, or when you pick up the clothes of your spouse and your children from the dryer and fold them neatly. It can happen when you sit with your nephew or niece and engage in a heartfelt conversation with him or her. It can happen by the bedside of your sick father or mother as you feed him or her and feel the tenderness of your love.
In any mundane thing, God lurks in and shows his presence. Only with hearts that are attuned to God’s power and grace and only with the eyes of faith can we say this truth about God. He reveals himself to us as we center our hearts in him in tranquility and silence. He’s there dwelling within us, and he wants us to enjoy the power and depth of his presence.
Call any of these moments sign, sacrament or mystery, but the truth is that God, indeed, wants to make himself known to us. He wants to engage himself with us even in this earthly life. We don’t have to wait for the end of one’s life to see him. In fact, each moment of feeling his presence in the ordinariness of life should be an anticipation of the grand moment when we will see him face to face.
The Gospel this Sunday is an invitation to “come and see” God through our relationship with his Son, Jesus Christ. In God’s plan of salvation, God, our Father, chose to manifest himself to us in the flesh through Jesus Christ—Christ who dined with sinners, feasted at weddings, rested with friends in their homes, visited sick, and fed the hungry. Jesus’ earthly life and ministry is God’s testament to his desire to be one with us.
Hence, discipleship happens to people who are sensitive to God’s presence, whose hearts are beaming with gratitude for his power in our lives. Discipleship — a continuous invitation of God to follow the ways of Jesus Christ — happens only to people who see God even in ordinary days and events.
Indeed, it happens to people who are passionate about their love and care for others, whose hearts have eyes that see the mysteries of God’s love and power every day of their lives!
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From a Filipino immigrant family, Reverend Rodel G. Balagtas was ordained to the priesthood from St. John’s Seminary in 1991. He served as Associate Pastor at St. Augustine, Culver City (1991-1993); St. Martha, Valinda (1993-1999); and St. Joseph the Worker, Canoga Park (1991-2001). In 2001, he served as Administrator Pro Tem of St. John Neumann in Santa Maria, CA, until his appointment as pastor of Immaculate Heart of Mary, Los Angeles, in 2002, which lasted 12 years. His term as Associate Director of Pastoral Field Education at St. John’s Seminary began in July 2014.