[COLUMN] Lent: An invitation to be home with God

IT’S the start of Lent! We think of this season as 40 days of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving.

And we grew up in it giving up something, whether it’s meat, sweets, vice, and more.

Some of us are even giving up looking at Facebook, Instagram, or You-Tube in this social media generation.

Whatever we give up this Lent, I hope we do it with discipline and sincerity of heart. I hope it helps us to grow in intimacy with Jesus.

It’s what I’d like to urge you to do this Lenten season. Enter deeply into the spirit of Lent by spending more time of prayer alone with God.

I insist on asking you to be alone with God, like what Jesus did in the Gospel this Sunday. He went to the desert to be alone with his Father as he prepared for his ministry on earth.
To be alone with God is to take God as our “home.”

In his book, Following Jesus, Finding Our Way Home in an Age of Anxiety, Henri J.M. Nouwen writes profoundly about this invitation to come to God as our home. He states:

“Jesus is offering an invitation to come into the House of God. It is an invitation to enter into God’s dwelling place.

It is not an invitation with harsh demands. It is the story of the Lamb of God saying to us, ‘Come. Come to my home. Look around you. Don’t be afraid.’ Long before Jesus’ radical call to leave everything behind, Jesus says, ‘Come, have a look where I am.’”

Then, Nouwen gives a different interpretation of the story of John and Andrew, who dropped everything they were doing to follow Jesus:

“Jesus turns around and sees them following him and said, ‘What do you want?’ And what do they say? Do they say, ‘Lord, we want to be your followers,’ ‘Lord, we want to do your will,’ ‘Lord, we want you to take our sins away? They don’t say any of that! Instead, they ask, ‘Where do you live?’

Somehow, right at the beginning of the story, we hear a very important question: Where do you live? What is your place? What is your way? How is it to be around you?
Jesus says, ‘Come and see.’”

Friends, although Lent is a time of repentance, it is also an exciting time to grow in intimacy with God–our refuge, our home!

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The opinions, beliefs and viewpoints expressed by the author do not necessarily reflect the opinions, beliefs and viewpoints of the Asian Journal, its management, editorial board and staff.

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Fr. Rodel “Odey” Balagtas is the pastor of Incarnation Church in Glendale, California.

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