Out of Hiding
by Rev. Paul Scalia
Reprinted be permission of "The Arlington Catholic Herald"
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Matthew wrote to show that Christ
Messiah and fulfilled the Jewish prophecies.
Jesus said to his disciples: "Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name? Did we not drive out demons in your name? Did we not do mighty deeds in your name? Then I will declare to them solemnly, 'I never knew you. Depart from me, you evil doers."
"Everyone who listens to these words of mine and acts on them will be like a wise man who built his house on rock. The rain fell, the floods came, and the winds blew and buffeted the house. But it did not collapse; it had been set solidly on rock. Any everyone who listens to these words of mine but does not act on them will be like a fool who built his house on sand. The rain fell, the floods came, and the winds blew and buffeted the house. And it collapsed and was completely ruined."
"Where are you?" These are God's first words to man after the fall, (cf. Gen 3:9) Adam and Eve were in hiding, of course. Adam explains, "I heard you in the garden; but I was afraid, because I was naked, so I hid myself." (Gen 3:10) After their sin they suddenly became ashamed of their nakedness - which before that had been no occasion of shame. (cf. Gen 2:25) We can see the physical nakedness of Adam and Eve as a sign of a deeper, spiritual nakedness they suffer. they are spiritually naked before God. Their sin and rebellion, the ugliness of their souls, is exposed. They are ashamed of themselves. So they hide. And we have hidden from God ever since.
Shame is perhaps the sin's greatest and most lasting wound. We do not want anyone - not even God - to see our viciousness and guilt. Of course, there is a good kind of shame. We ought to be ashamed of the evil we do. Such shame leads to repentance, turning back to God and receiving forgiveness.
We run into trouble, however, when we allow guilt to make us ashamed - not of what we did - but of ourselves. We forget our dignity and we hide from God. We tragically conceal ourselves from the only One Who can heal our wound. But He persists and will not let us be. His question resounds throughout history to each of us: "Where are you?" Indeed, He has come into the world to seek us out and save us from sin ... and shame. We, for our part, must no longer hide but allow Him to find us.
The Christian life, the, means not only knowing God but also (perhaps even more) being known by Him. In effect, to come out of hiding and allow Him to find us. St. Paul explains to the Galatians, "you have come to know God" - and then correcting himself adds - "or rather to be known by God." (Gal 4:9) To know God without allowing ourselves to be known by Him - that is, to be found - does not benefit us. Even the demons believe ... and tremble." (Jas 2:19)
All of this helps explain Our Lord's mysterious (and harsh) words regarding those who expect salvation simply because they knew Him: "I will declare to them solemnly, "I never knew you. Depart from me, you evildoers." (Mt 7:23) It seems that they knew Him in a superficial manner only. It would be better to say that they knew about Him. They had never entered that relationship that means not only knowing Him personally ... but allowing Him to know them.
"I never knew you. Depart from me, you evildoers." Certainly Jesus knows each of us - better than we know ourselves. But His words indicate that we stand in danger of not making ourselves known to Him. We can remain in hiding, trapped in our shame. He has revealed Himself to us in His word and sacrament. But we often settle for a superficial relationship, not inviting Him into a deeper and more intimate knowledge of us.
In many respects, the more difficult aspect of the Christian life is not God's revelation to us but our revelation to Him. He has taken the initiative and revealed Himself to us. We must respond in like manner, allowing ourselves (as Adam and Eve did not) to be spiritually naked before Him. Only when we lay bare our sins, wounds and disgrace before Him can He then forgive our sins, heal our wounds and restore our dignity.
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