The hiddenness of God

Quiet Storm by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II, 04 September 2020
Photo by author, sunset at the Lake of Galilee (Tiberias) in Israel, May 2017.

August has always been a “ghost month” for me since elementary school. Long before I have heard these stories and words of caution against many things in the month of August, I have always dreaded this month when days are grindingly slow.

Specially this year 2020 when the whole month of August felt like the season of Lent when everything was dry and empty, even literally speaking in our churches when the five Sundays of August were like five Good Fridays.

But, for the first time in many years during this pandemic, amid the dryness and emptiness of August 2020, I felt and “found” God anew in his most unique and wonderful characteristic — his hiddenness.

Hiddenness is different from being invisible that simply means “not visible”.

Hiddenness is something both simple and complicated but beautiful and wonderful when we find God in his hiddenness.

Hiddenness of God means more than not being seen per se; it is that feeling with certainty that he is present but, just hiding somewhere. In fact, if God were not hidden, we would have not found him at all!

And the more God is hidden, the more we are able to see him and experience him!

Photo by author, April 2020.

Remember when we were kids and could not find the things that our mother had asked us to get from somewhere in the sala or kitchen or her tocador? She would threaten us with the classic line my generation have all heard and memorized, “Pag hindi mo nakita yan, makikita mo sa akin!”

It is one of our funniest memories of childhood! I am sorry for my English-speaking readers but there is no appropriate translation for this because it is very cultural and even spiritual in nature. Literally translated, it says that if you do not find what you are looking for, you would find it with me. Crazy and insane, is it not?!

I told you, hiddenness of God is both simple and complex but whenever we remember those “sweet, maternal threats”, we laugh and shrug off the experience as we were dead serious then searching for whatever thing mom had asked us because deep in us we knew too well, it must be somewhere there. Sabi kasi ni Inay! (Mom said so!)

That is how it is with God too! We know for sure he is around, he is present. But in hiding because that is how loving God is, like moms and some lovers with surprises for us his beloved.

The Prophet Jeremiah experienced it so well when he wrote:

You duped me, O Lord, and I let myself be duped; you were too strong for me, and you triumphed. All the day I am an object of laughter, everyone mocks me. Whenever I speak, I must cry out, violence and outrage is my message; the word of the Lord has brought me derision and reproach all the day. I say to myself, I will not mention him, I will speak in his name no more. But then it becomes like fire burning in my heart, imprisoned in my bones; I grow weary holding itin, I cannot endure it.

Jeremiah 20:7-9

No one can understand this without having experienced such intense kind of love of God or of another person that even if we are pained, we just cannot walk away or leave. More so with God, the most intense lover of all!

At the very center of Jeremiah’s torment is the invincible power of attraction of God. This is also the reason human love – whether for another a friend or a spouse, for the Church or any institution – must always be based on the love of Christ who told us to “love one another as I have loved you.” If our love remains in the human level, it can never go deeper or higher making it so sublime, so true, so pure.

That is how God is in his hiddenness who is like a lover who never stops looking for us, calling us, luring us, even seducing us to come to him, search him and once found, we may dwell in his great love; hence, even if we do not “see” him, we keep on following him as we also find him in his hiddenness!

Hiddenness of God, mystery and gift of Easter

This hiddenness of God is both the gift and mystery of Jesus Christ’s Resurrection. It is a gift because in his hiddenness, God has become closest to us more than ever while at the same time, a mystery because it is in his very hiddenness that we truly find and discover God.

Remember the two disciples going home to Emmaus on Easter afternoon who was accompanied by Jesus while traveling? They did not recognize him but as they talked, their “hearts were burning” as he explained the Scriptures. Then joining them at their meal at sundown upon reaching Emmaus, Jesus took the bread, blessed it and broke it — and the disciples’ eyes were opened, recognizing him as the Lord who immediately disappeared! The two then rushed back to Jerusalem to announce to the other disciples that Jesus had indeed risen.

That is the beauty of hiddenness, its giftedness and mystery that we find God even our beloved who had died or not physically present with us but deep within, we are certain of their presence as being so true and so real.

Hiddenness is a deeper level of relationship coming from one’s heart and soul not dependent on physical presence. This is the reason why upon appearing to Mary Magdalene on Easter morning, Jesus asked her not to touch him because from then on, knowing and relating with the Lord need not be physical and corporeal as he used to relate with them before his Death and Resurrection.

All these we must have experienced like when after a friend or a relative had died, that is when we felt growing closer with the person than when he/she was still alive and physically present with us. Or, when we were feeling low and down, we experienced sometimes so amazed at how we have felt the presence even the scent of our deceased loved ones comforting us, assuring us that all would be better.

This quarantine period invites us to experience and discover God anew in his hiddenness through prayers and silence so we can reflect on the many lessons this pandemic is teaching us today. In the darkness and emptiness of this pandemic are grace-filled moments with God hidden in our poverty and sadness, sickness and even deaths around us.

Photo by author, Christmas 2018.

Some people have already asked me about what or how would our Simbang Gabi and Christmas celebrations be. They are sad and worried that it must be a very bleak Christmas for everyone with so many out of work.

But, despite this gloom, I tell them that Christmas 2020 would be one – if not the most meaningful Christmas we shall ever have despite forecasts that there would be less of everything, materially speaking.

So often in life, when we have so much material things, that is when we fail to find and experience God.

Recall that in Bethlehem more that 2000 years ago when Jesus Christ was born, God came to us hidden in a stable, on a manger in the darkness of the night.

And do not forget, too, that Christmas is not a date but an event, the very person of Jesus Christ, the all-powerful God who came to us hidden in a child, who upon becoming an adult, was crucified and died. These are sad and down moments for us but for God, it is his hiddenness, his presence. Let us go and find him again for he continues to come to us in hiddenness. Amen.

When good news/bad news do not matter at all

The Lord Is My Chef Sunday Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Week XXII, Cycle A in Ordinary Time, 30 August 2020
Jeremiah 20:7-9 >><}}}*>| + | >><}}}*> Romans 12:1-2 >><}}}*>| + | >><}}}*> Matthew 16:21-27
Photo by author, Caesarea Philippi, May 2019

Maybe you have been asked so many times with the question, which do you prefer to hear first, the good news or the bad news? Usually we say it all depends to our mood and temperament or to the gravity of the situation. Sometimes, we ask for the bad news first so we can suffer earlier and enjoy the good news later. Or, we ask for the good news first to soften the impact of the bad news.

Our gospel this Sunday is still set in the pagan city of Caesarea Philippi and we heard Jesus giving his disciples – including us – with a strong dosage of “bad news” after hearing last week the good news that he is “the Christ, the Son of the living God.”

Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer greatly from the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed and on the third day be raised. Then Peter took Jesus aside and began to rebuke him, “God forbid, Lord! No such thing shall ever happen to you.” He turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are obstacle to me. You are thinking not as God does, but as human beings do.” Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.”

Matthew 16:21-25

Our gospel today seems to be a very big, bad news for everyone, with things getting worst before getting any better which the Lord had promised to be only in the end that nobody knows when!

See how Jesus started by saying he would “suffer greatly at the hands of elders, the chief priests, and the scribes and be killed and on the third day be raised again.” Not only that: he now calls Peter as “Satan” from being the Rock last Sunday after giving the right answer as to who he is.

Like Peter, we would probably say the same thing to Jesus why make suffering and death central to life that is meant to enjoy?

Like Peter, the Lord is inviting us today to focus more on the good news than on the bad news of suffering and death which for him – the Paschal mystery we call – is actually the best of good news!

Photo by author, altar flowers in our parish, January 2020.

Jesus Christ’s pasch is the best of good news!

What we have heard as “bad news” from the Lord is his first prediction of his coming pasch or Passion, Death and Resurrection. He would be announcing this prediction of his pasch two more times as they near Jerusalem.

From the He brew word pesach that means to pass over, it connotes suffering and death into new life. It came from the Exodus experience of the Chosen People from Egypt into the Promised Land during the time of Moses, taking its fullest meaning in Jesus Christ, the Son of God who became human like us in everything except sin, “passing over” from eternity to temporal, from Passion and Death to Resurrection.

Authentic discipleship does not require us to seek suffering; no, God is not sadistic as some people with twisted minds would say. However, being faithful to Jesus, witnessing his gospel values bring enough of these sufferings and deaths but on a different level and meaning. We realize that life is a daily exodus, a passing over from darkness into light, from ignorance into wisdom, from sickness into health, from death into new life.

Like the prophet Jeremiah in the first reading, we discover that the more we follow God, the more sufferings we encounter in life but at the same time, we cannot let go of him because his attraction is so powerful! There is something so deep within, so profound and fulfilling in us we realize that living in the ways of God, in the gospel values of Christ can we truly find lasting joy and peace – even if we have to die in our very selves in the process.

You duped me, O Lord, and I let myself be duped; you were too strong for me, and you triumphed. all the day I am an object of laughter; everyone mocks me… But then it becomes like fire burning in my heart, imprisoned in my bones; I grow weary holding it in, I cannot endure it.

Jeremiah 20:7, 9
Photo by author, Gaudete Sunday in our parish, December 2019.

Thinking in God’s ways

Today Jesus is assuring us that there is no such thing as “good news, bad news” with him. The good news/bad news question is really a non-question to disciples of Christ because whatever suffering and death we embrace in him is a sharing in his very life.

Hence, Jesus Christ’s good news is in fact the bestest news we can ever have. Always.

The key is to think as God does, not as human beings do as Jesus pointed out to Peter.

Three things I wish to share with you about thinking in God’s ways:

First is to accept and embrace pains and sufferings not for their own sake but as a way to cleanse our selves to greater glory. As we have said, God is not a sadist; we need to be cleansed like every thing in order to bring out the best in us like diamonds or any precious stone or any material.

Polishing and honing always mean “subtractions” with so many shaving and cutting of the rough edges to bring out the beauty and sharpness of a thing.

Man’s ways has always been to avoid every pain and suffering. No wonder, the most prescribed medicine worldwide is said to be the pain killer. But, experience has taught us this is not true and cannot be the norm of life. Like every gym enthusiast would tell you, “no pain, no gain”. Pain and suffering is part of life and the good news is, Christ has made it holy for us.

Second is to be silent in order to be able to listen to every sound and thus, heighten our sensitivities not only with our true selves but also with God and with others. In this age of social media and instant communications, silent has become a rare commodity. It is always easier to speak even without thinking much than be silent. That is the way of the world: speak out loud, make noises, and let everyone hear you — until they get tired of you.

Photo by author, our parish ceiling at sunset, 25 August 2020.

Third is the most precious in God’s ways of thinking — the way of hiddenness. This is God’s most evident way of making himself felt, experienced, and yes, seen by being hidden and invisible.

Last Thursday we celebrated the memorial of St. Monica, the mother of St. Augustine who narrated the story of how she got sick at Ostia in Italy with his brother hurrying to get back home to Tagaste in Africa so that when she dies, she would be buried there. St. Monica “reproached him with a glance because he had entertained such earthly thoughts”; then, she looked at St. Augustine and told him to bury her anywhere, asking one thing only from him: that he remembers her always in his celebration of the Holy Mass.

So many times, we are so concerned with our popularity that whatever we do has to be made known to everyone to see specially by those so-called “followers” with their “likes” that even up to death, some would spend a fortune for lavish funerals and even mauseleoum.

That’s the way of the world of everybody making a statement, of being known as present, always seen. In the movie “The Devil’s Advocate”, Al Pacino played the role of satan who said it so well at the end after tempting Keanu Reeves, “vanity…vanity is my most favorite sin.”

See the life of Jesus Christ: more than half was spend in hiddenness and silence. He worked only for three years characterized by so many instances of silence and hiddenness too and yet, his impact continues to this day and hereafter.

Beginning with last Sunday after asking us who do we say he is, Jesus is inviting us to follow him in his Passion and Death to be one in his Resurrection. This is also the call by St. Paul in the second reading:

I urge you, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God, your spiritual worship. Do not conform yourselves to this age but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and pleasing and perfect.

Romans 12:1-2

Jesus is not asking too much from us, no need for any fanfares on our part; simply come to him with our true self, no matter how sinful and incomplete we are. Remember, all is good news with him and you never lose in him. Amen.

A blessed week to everyone!

Photo by author, parish ceiling at sunset, 25 August 2020.

More than words

The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Monday, Feast of St. Bartholomew, Apostle, 24 August 2020
Revelation 21:9-14 >><}}}*> |+| >><}}}*> |+| >><}}}*> John 1:45-51
Photo by author, Subic, 2018.

Glory and praise to you, Lord Jesus, the “Word who became flesh and dwelt among us” to reveal the Father’s immense love for us all. He was not contented in just telling the prophets of Old Testament how he loved us that He came and lived with us in you, Lord Jesus!

And that is why we also rejoice on this Feast of St. Bartholomew, a.k.a. Nathanael, who was introduced to you by another Apostle you have called earlier:

Philip found Nathanael and told him, “We have found the one about whom Moses wrote in the law, and also the prophets, Jesus, son of Joseph, from Nazareth.” But Nathanael said to him, “Can anything good come from Nazareth?” Philip said to him, “Come and see.” Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward him and said of him, “Here is a true child of Israel. There is no duplicity in him.” Nathanael said to him, “How did you know me?” Jesus answered and said to him, “Before Philip called you, I saw you under the fig tree.” Nathanael answered him, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the King of Israel.”

John 1:45-49

O dear Jesus, like St. Peter in the gospel yesterday and now St. Bartholomew, you are telling us anew to never be contented with mere words, with the “what” of who you really are, that we must always “come and see you” in order to experience your very person and truly know you.

I really wonder O Lord what your words meant that before Philip called Nathanael-Batholomew, you have seen him under the fig tree; however, I am so convinced that in your words, Nathanael-Bartholomew must have felt something deep inside him that he threw himself totally to you as your Apostle.

Most of all, teach me to remain simple and hidden in you, Jesus that like St. Bartholomew, despite the scarcity of stories and information about him except this little anecdote from the fourth Gospel, he remained faithful to you until his death by flaying reportedly in India.

May we imitate St. Bartholomew who had shown us that more than words, what matters is our oneness in you, Jesus, without any need for us doing sensational deeds, earning thousands of “likes” and “followers” in social media because only you, Lord, remains extraordinary above all. Amen.

Let truth set us free

40 Shades of Lent, Wednesday, Week-V, 01 April 2020

Daniel 3:14-20, 91-92, 95 ><)))*> +++ <*(((>< John 8:31-42

After my “daily Mass without congregation”, 31 March 2020. Photo by author.

O God our loving Father, thank you very much for this brand new day you have given us. Thank you for another day to be better, to be safer, and most of all, to be more faithful , truthful, and loving to you.

Grant us the same courage you have given the three young men cast into the hot furnace after refusing to worship the pagan idol of their pagan captors.

King Nebuchadnezzar said: “Is it true, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, that you will not serve my god, or worship the golden statue that I set up? Who is the God that can deliver you out of my hands?” Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego answered King Nebuchadnezzar, “There is no need for us to defend ourselves before you in this matter… But even if our God will not save us from the white-hot furnace, know, O king, that we will not serve your god or worship your golden statue which you set up.”

Daniel 3:14, 16, 18

O dear Lord, people are wondering why we still pray, why we celebrate the Mass even our churches are closed, and why or what are we doing when we bring the Blessed Sacrament around our parish.

Many are asking where is our God in all these sickness and deaths caused by COVID-19.

Many are like King Nebuchadnezzar trying to put down the Church founded by your Son Jesus Christ, wondering what we are doing in the midst of this pandemic.

Merciful Father, you know us very well as your children.

Give us the perseverance and fidelity to keep on doing what we have always been doing in hiddenness without much pomp and pageantry and other public relation stunts.

Let our silent works for you and in you continue so that people may know you truly exist, you are among us even if you do not give tangible signs of your presence or proofs of your power.

Let us remain in your Son Jesus Christ so we may always know and follow and most of all, stand by him who is Truth himself because “the truth will set us free” (Jn.8:32). Amen.

Photo by Ms. Ria De Vera, kids kneeling before the Blessed Sacrament we have “motorcaded” around our parish last March 22 and 29, 2020.

Giving Jesus

MaiShowaKinen2
The Lord Is My Chef Sunday Recipe, Week XXXII-B, 11 November 2018
1Kings 17:10-16///Hebrews 9:24-28///Mark 12:38-44

            Maybe you have heard the story of how the chicken and the cow argued who between them gives the most to their master.  The cow said she gives the most because from her supply of milk, the farmer is able to have cheese as well.  But the chicken argued that their master have to go through tedious work in milking the cow unlike with her when she simply has to lay eggs in her nest that can be easily obtained every day.  The pig heard their discussion, praised them both for their daily supply of milk and eggs to their master but reminded them that for her to give ham and bacon, she has to die first by offering her whole life as food.

            Jesus is still in the temple area teaching the people and His disciples some important lessons before His coming Passion, Death, and Resurrection.  Last week He had taught us of asking questions of the above and higher things that is actually a search for God which is the most essential in life.  Today, Jesus deepens this search for God by reminding us of the need to give our total selves to Him in order to find and have Him.  First we ask Jesus, and now we give our total selves to Jesus.

            In the course of his teaching, Jesus said to the crowds, “Beware of the scribes, who like to go around in long robes and accept greetings in the marketplaces, seats of honor in synagogues, and places of honor in banquets.” (Mk.12:38-39)

            The first step in giving our total selves to God and to others is to go back to what I call as our “hallowed hiddenness” in God.  We now live in the midst of social media where everything is “exposed” with nothing hidden from us anymore.  Everyone is either a “bida” or in a “pabida” mode.  Bida is the star or lead character in a movie or a TV show.  It is from the Spanish word vida that means life (contravida is the villain, the opposite of life).  Jesus was attacking here the scribes for being so “pabida”, always seeking popularity and admiration from the people.  They have entirely forgotten God and most likely must have thought of themselves as God Himself.  Sad to say, this continues to our own time.  Check Facebook and you see what I mean.  We have become a clapping generation because everybody is a bida.  Even in church where solemnity of the Mass is sacrificed on the pretext of making it more celebratory and participative that priests encourage so much clapping of hands.  How sad that some Masses have become a variety show with the priest becoming a celebrity that in the process, Jesus is forgotten.  Today’s warning by Jesus is personally directed to us who have become the modern scribes, reminding us how we must present ourselves more before God than before humans.   There is always this danger of hypocrisy and showmanship in every kind of service especially in the Church which is also the reason why laypeople quarrel among themselves on who is the real bida.  When this happens especially in the Church, we all become a kontrabida of the real and only bida, Jesus Christ.

            CNN reported recently that amid South Korea’s being the most wired country in the world with the fastest internet speed, it is now building many public libraries and centers where people can relax minus the ubiquitous smartphones and other gadgets.  The report says how the Koreans have realized the need for silence and stillness to truly progress.  Likewise, many companies and offices in Silicon Valley are reportedly encouraging their people to drop all gadgets once in a while during work to recharge and be refreshed in silence to discover new ideas.  Some tech companies there have even encouraged their workers to go hiking without bringing their gadgets to reconnect with self, others and nature.  Even the latest top of the line model of the iPhone is said to have a built-in monitor that reminds a user for being too focused with the gadget for a certain period of time.  These are all wonderful developments of how people are slowly rediscovering anew the need to be alone, to be still, and be silent.  We need to recapture our “hallowed hiddenness” with God so we can be whole again as a person.  The problem with too much exposure like in FB where even coffee breaks are posted is not only the growth of narcissism and superficiality among us but the grave mistake that one’s meaning in life is measured with the number of likes or followers one gets.  Unknown to us, the more we become visible and popular, the more we also become dependent on others for having meaning in life.  We can only find our true selves and meaning of life in God, the root of our being.  God is always found in emptiness and nothingness, not in abundance of the world.

            In the first reading we find this hallowed hiddenness in God in the beautiful story of the faith of Elijah and of that pagan widow of Zarephath.  Elijah was fleeing from the soldiers sent to kill him after telling King Ahab and his queen Jezebel that there would be drought in Israel due to their worship of baal.  He was first directed to a mountain stream where ravens brought him bread daily.  When the stream ran dry, God told Elijah to hide in Zarephath near Sidon in the home of a pagan widow.  This story of Elijah obeying God in a land of scarcity and danger (Zarephath was under the rule of Jezebel’s father) shows us his complete faith in God, of abandoning himself entirely with God.  The same is true with the pagan widow who gave everything to Elijah, believing in the promise of God told by the prophet.  In their hiddenness in God, relying solely on Him alone than with themselves and with others, Elijah and the pagan widow along with her son never went hungry until the rains came.  When we try to spend some hallowed hiddenness with God daily, taking a break from our busy schedules and social media, that is when we are purified to become better persons filled with the Spirit and substance.

            This is also the point of Jesus in calling His disciples to tell them later while seated opposite the treasury that the poor widow who put in two small coins worth a few cents gave more than the others for she “has contributed all she had, her whole livelihood.” (Mk.12:44)  The issue at hand is not about big money and little coins or amount of contributions but the spirit behind the act of giving.  Jesus was evoking here His coming total gift of self on the Cross that would soon take place which the author of the Letter to the Hebrews underscored in today’s second reading.  According to Pope Francis, “Giving and forgiving means reproducing in our lives some small measure of God’s perfection, which gives and forgives superabundantly” (Gaudete et Exsultate, 81).  Indeed, God has given us with so much but we have given so little.  May we learn to give more of ourselves and more of Jesus in us with others.  AMEN. Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II, Parokya ni San Juan Apostol at Ebanghelista, Gov. F. Halili Ave., Bagbaguin, Sta. Maria, Bulacan 3022.  Email:  lordmychef@gmail.com   

*Photo by Dra. Mai B. Dela Pena, Showa Kinen Garden in Japan, 2018.  Used with permission.

Our Hallowed Hiddenness

RaffySunset1
Quiet Storm by LordMyChef, 31 October 2018:

            Whether you choose to celebrate today’s Halloween in its truest, Christian sense that is sacred or in the more popular pagan manner that is scary, today’s feast that literally means All Hallowed (Holy) Eve reminds us of things that are not seen, always hidden.  Hiddenness is a sacred presence where each one of us is all by one’s self focused on God who is the root of our being and existence no matter how one may call Him.  In one of his writings which I could no longer recall despite the help of Google, St. John Paull II explained that God created man first to be alone with Him.  And that is how it has always been even if people get married for eventually in the end, we die alone with God.

             This gift of hiddenness within each one of us is manifested in our desire to once in a while be still, to go to the mountains or anywhere for a retreat or introspection, for “me” time to rediscover and “find” one’s self anew.  Hiddenness is the passageway to the great gifts of silence and stillness that everyone needs to maintain balance in this highly competitive world filled with so much noise where everybody is talking, even cars, ATM’s, and elevators.  How funny that we complain of not having enough time for ourselves but we never cease to stop talking and listening.  And not only that:  we have allowed everything about us not only heard but even seen on cameras.  First came the Sony Walkman almost 40 years ago that became the ancestor of every gadget that have invaded our hiddenness; now, we have camera everywhere, shooting and recording everything that nothing is hidden anymore in us and from us.  We have stripped ourselves of the innate mystery of being human, of the beauty and gift of personhood that some have tried to reveal using the camera but failed because we are beyond seeing and appreciation.

             While it is true that cameras are essential in keeping our surroundings safe and secured that it is referred to as “big brother”, again we find here another case of abusing technology to the detriment of our humanity.  As I have told you here last week (Respect In Digital Age), we need to put technology at its right place, particularly the camera that robs us of that essential thing we call respect.  But the greatest threat and danger posed on us by the camera is how we have allowed it to invade our hiddenness with almost everybody wanting to be on camera without realizing it often backfires, sometimes painfully.

            The camera is a projector, trying to show in a bigger picture deeper realities notably the plain truth.  Here lies our quiet storm when we are so eager to project everything and everyone including our very selves on the camera when we do not realize nor examine what we are really showing.  The great paradox is that the camera does not lie that always seem to show what is negative than what is positive in us.  Keep in mind the TV is called “idiot box”because those inside the television presuppose everybody watching them is an idiot when in fact, they are more idiots.  Watching television – news or entertainment – can reveal who are superficial and those with substance.  Sometimes TV can be deceiving that we take some people and things appearing on the screen as good and credible without us realizing these are “presentations” that are manipulated to produce a desired effect called the hypodermic theory.  This explains the popularity of YouTube as people prefer “raw footages” that show people and events “as it happened.”  Even movie directors are adapting to this style to show action “as it is” to give the film a more realistic feel that contribute to the blurring of lines between reality and virtual reality.

            We need to regain our hallowed hiddenness if we wish to grow and mature truly as persons – emotionally, psychologically and spiritually.  With the camera always around us even in the church, sad to say, everybody and everything has become so ordinary and cheap.  Even God has to keep His hiddenness simply because that is how He had created everything.  See the beautiful speech of God before Job that can transport you to the sublime beauty of nature and creation.  The beloved apostle also tells us of the hiddenness of Jesus Christ who “In the beginning was the word.” (Jn.1:1)  All four evangelists likewise have no records of the “hidden years” of Jesus before the age of 30 except for Matthew and Luke who gave us little glimpses of the birth and childhood of the Lord.  These are all meant to teach us of the value of hiddenness, of being rooted always in our being and with God.  Appearances in life are very fleeting and for more impact, we have to spend more time in hiddenness as revealed to us by Christ, the saints, artists and other great men and women of the world who came to be known and popular only after upon death.  So many times we have also experienced in the funeral of our relatives and friends that we discover their hidden goodness and kindness from stories of those condoling with us.

            This November 1 and 2 as we remember all those who have left us in this world, let us keep its sacred origins:  All Saints Day for those souls already in heaven and All Souls’ Day for those who have departed but still being purified or staying at the purgatory.  Both dates invite us to hide also in some prayer, remembering God and our loved ones whom we shall surely follow someday without any camera at all.  Like them in hiddenness from us, let us be focused more on God than on self and things that pass.  Here is the late Fr. Henri Nouwen on hiddenness:

“In our society we are inclined to avoid hiddenness. We want to be seen and acknowledged. We want to be useful to others and influence the course of events. But as we become visible and popular, we quickly grow dependent on people and their responses and easily lose touch with God, the true source of our being. Hiddenness is the place of purification. In hiddenness we find our true selves.”

2-corinthians-4-18-2

*Photo by Mr. Raffy Tima of GMA-7 News, sunset on a flight to Dubai, October 2018.  Used with permission.  Bible verse from Google.