July 18th 2021
I was friends with a Cistercian monk when I attended Seminary. I went to his monastery with him every Thanksgiving when I was at the Seminary. The monks raised sheep. One time I went out with them as they were herding the sheep, moving them from one pasture to another. There was one sheep that was injured and was not using one of its legs to walk. The monks tried to gather it in to help it, but it got scared and hobbled off into the brush with at least 5 or 6 monks in pursuit, but it eluded all of the monks and wandered off. It showed up the next day on its own after spending the night out. I didn’t know who to pity more, the shepherds or the sheep. Maybe the sheep and the monks both needed to go off to a deserted place and rest awhile. I remember playing hide-and-seek when I was a kid. It was one of the favorite games in my neighborhood. I found it was fun both to hide and to seek. It seemed like the better you could hide, the better you could seek because if you could hide well, you knew all the best hiding places. That made you a better seeker.
We began hiding in the Garden of Eden. Adam and Eve hid when the original sin was committed. “When they heard the sound of the LORD God walking about in the garden at the breezy time of the day, the man and his wife hid themselves from the LORD God among the trees of the garden. The LORD God then called to the man and asked him: Where are you?” (Gen 3:8-9) We lost our Holy fear of God and rejected God’s love. We fell into darkness and needed the light to guide us back.
“Hear my voice, LORD, when I call;
have mercy on me and answer me.
‘Come,’ says my heart, ‘seek his face’;
your face, LORD, do I seek!
Do not hide your face from me;
do not repel your servant in anger.
You are my salvation; do not cast me off;
do not forsake me, God my savior!
Even if my father and mother forsake me,
the LORD will take me in.” (Ps 27:7-10)
It only seems like God comes out of hiding because of the darkness in this world. We are the ones who hide from Him. He reveals His face to us through the face of Jesus. Jesus is the light of the world. Jesus came down from heaven to find us, to gather us, and to lead us to the Father. The first one besides Mary His mother, and Joseph to see His face was John the Baptist. “I saw the Spirit come down like a dove from the sky and remain upon him. I did not know him, but the one who sent me to baptize with water told me, ‘On whomever you see the Spirit come down and remain, he is the one who will baptize with the holy Spirit.’ Now I have seen and testified that he is the Son of God.” (Jn 1:32-34) “‘Behold, the Lamb of God’…two disciples (of John) heard what he said and followed Jesus. Jesus turned and saw them following him and said to them, ‘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.’” (Jn 1:36c-39a) God knows where we are even when we don’t. God knows where we should be even when we don’t.
“Therefore, thus says the Lord GOD: Now I will restore the fortunes of Jacob and take pity on the whole house of Israel; I am zealous for my holy name. They will forget their shame and all the infidelities they committed against me when they live securely on their own land with no one to frighten them. When I bring them back from the nations and gather them from the lands of their enemies, I will show my holiness through them in the sight of many nations. Thus they shall know that I, the LORD, am their God, since I who exiled them among the nations will gather them back to their land, not leaving any of them behind. I will no longer hide my face from them once I pour out my spirit upon the house of Israel—oracle of the Lord GOD.” (Ez 39:25-29)