Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
Where does the Lord dwell?
This week’s readings tell us about the dedication of the Temple by Solomon. It was a powerful moment in Israel’s history! Solomon said: “I have truly built you a princely house, a dwelling where you may abide forever.”
But, in God’s plan, the “forever” part was not to be so. The Temple was a beautiful thing. But God’s plan was deeper: to dwell in us. In the Incarnation, the Son of God came to dwell in human nature; at Pentecost, the Holy Spirit came to dwell in the disciples; when we receive the Eucharist, Jesus comes to dwell in each of us. In those, we see the fulfillment of where God intends to dwell.
This week’s readings also show us a dispute between Jesus and the Pharisees about purification. The Pharisees were focused on external purification — the washing of hands. Jesus wanted something deeper — the purification of the heart.
In both cases, it’s not that the starting point was bad. On the contrary: The Temple and the washing of hands were both good things! But in both cases, the external thing was meant to lead us to something deeper, an internal reality.
Against that background, let’s talk about Ash Wednesday and Lent, which are now just a week away.
It might feel a bit early to be talking about Lent. But television is already advertising for the Olympics this summer. If we’re preparing months in advance to watch the Olympic games, then I think we can prepare a week in advance for Lent!
Here, my question is: What’s one step deeper in providing a dwelling place for the Lord in your life?
If we think we have to be the spiritual equivalent of an Olympic athlete, we can despair of even beginning. But what the Lord asks of each of us — from the simplest beginner to the most advanced disciple — is to take one step deeper in becoming a dwelling place for Him.
What if each of us conducted a “time audit” of our lives? Count up the amount of time you spend on the internet, television, radio and newspapers gathering the latest news. Then, for Lent, take a percentage of that time and reallocate it to reading Scripture, listening to a faith-based podcast or listening to Catholic radio.
There are other ways to do a faith audit of our lives. But it takes some time and thought, which is why I’m asking about it a week before Lent.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: The world these days is a tired and anxious place. The Lord intends to build in us a dwelling place of peace and refreshment. But if we’re going to invite people into that dwelling — and we will! — we have to build it first.
Where do we long for God to dwell more deeply in our lives? Whatever that is, it’s worth spending some time and energy making some Lenten building plans.