04 April 2019 :  Why does God hide Himself?

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Thursday of the Fourth Week of Lent

Exodus 32:7-14; John 5:31-47

You have never heard his voice, you have never seen his shape

The Gospels, particularly John’s, contain endless disputes about ‘where Jesus came from’.  Jesus claimed that he was the only one who had seen God, and that they should see in him the face of God. But for the Jews, God is essentially invisible. Even Moses was shown only his back!

If only God tore the heavens and gave us a glimpse of his face, most human problems could be solved. Why does he hide himself? Where is he, if he is there at all? Everyone asks this question, particularly in the face of unjust suffering of the innocent. Should not a loving Father show himself to his children?

If at all there is an answer, it is to be found in the mystery of God as Love. True love implies freedom, which is the ability to say ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to a proposal. Only beings with free will can love someone else. The sun and the moon cannot love God, only beings with free will. Due to this freedom, love can be only implored, not commanded or imposed. The dearest wish of God is that we be his beloveds, loving him freely and joyfully.  And that invitation is also the greatest grace for the human beings.

If God were to appear to us with his Omnipotence, we would be so terrified and awed that it would take away our freedom to say ‘no’ to his invitation, and hence our ‘yes’ would have no meaning! This is the reason for the permanent veil on his face! We should not think that God is happy to play hide and seek with us. It is a pain for him. But his hidden-ness is the greatest salute to human freedom, a sign of his absolute respect for his loved ones! But he does appear to us in thousand other ways, particularly as a beggar of love, through people who are begging us for our love. This is the meaning of Jesus’s great parable of the last judgement: “Whatever you do to the least of my brothers, you do to me.” But in that ‘transfiguration’ of the face of God most people do not manage to recognise him!

Jesus’ endless pleading to believe in him reveals the longing of God’s Heart for our love.  The Sacred Heart of Jesus, broken for us is its eloquent symbol. If only we could understand the grandeur of our vocation!

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