3rd Sunday after Easter 7.5.17 God hiding
Godhead here in hiding - the beginning of a hymn by St Thomas Aquinas - is an echo of today’s Gospel: in a little while you will not see Me, but then you will see Me again.
Does God hide from us? In a certain sense, yes.
He wants everyone to know Him, to live in union with Him. Yet He does not make Himself as obvious as He could, for example by working more miracles, spectacular undeniable miracles like at Fatima.
And He permits obstacles to arise for those who seek Him, such as persecutions or temptations.
He cannot reveal everything about Himself all at once. It would be like trying to put the ocean into buckets. He has to wait for us to reach certain levels of spiritual maturity before revealing the next stage. We don’t give beer to three year olds; we don’t let five year olds drive cars.
There is a certain maturity needed before people can do these things. The human adult has a long childhood, and this suggests that the same would apply in the spiritual world.
It takes time to mature. In fact, spiritual maturity is harder to achieve than general maturity.
Spiritual maturity means getting to know God at a deeper level, and coming to appreciate at least some of the richness there to be found.
In the initial stages of the spiritual life we might see things from a self-interested perspective: I expect God to provide what I need, and on my terms.
With maturity I learn to be more concerned for others, not just myself. And as far as the goods I seek, it is less of the material or physical blessings, and more of the spiritual. We come to see that to be kind, generous, self-sacrificing etc, is more desirable than to have lots of money or status.
This is what God wants of His children and disciples. So there is that note of incompleteness in today’s gospel - for a while you will not see Me and you will feel alone, and even abandoned; and you will struggle with all sorts of pressures, and you will be tempted to abandon belief - but if you can hold on through all this, I will be with you, only in ways not visible.
He is trying to increase - not decrease - our happiness by bringing us to be the full image, the full potential of what He had in mind when He created us.
It is a bit of a rough ride, and a lonely one, but worth it a million times over once we understand the plan. There will be joy like that of a mother who gives birth (Jn 16,21).
If we are prepared to trust in God, in His wisdom and goodness, we can take life as He unfolds it to us, and give Him the best we can.
For what we get right we give thanks. For what we get wrong we ask His pardon.
All the while we are achieving a deepening maturity of spirit, so that we are able to recognise the interference and the temptations; all the bumps and turns in the road. We do not lose sight of our ultimate goal, as we cling to God, acknowledging His centrality, absolute power and goodness.
Once converted we still need a lot more conversion. There are many layers. And many chinks and cracks have to be fixed. A lot of restoring is required for these works of art. To restore one human being to the fulness of what God intended is a big operation.
How will we know when we are fully restored? When we desire only what God wants for us.
Then we will have found the ‘hidden’ God!