Hide and God Seeks
Homily for the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary
Preached on December 7-8, 2011 at Saint Andrew Catholic Church, Harrodsburg KY and Saint Mary Catholic Church, Perryville KY
Readings: Genesis 3:9-15, 20; Psalm 98:1, 2-3ab, 3cd-4; Ephesians 1:3-6, 11-12; Luke 1:26-38
I had spent some twenty minutes seeking out every playmate who had gone into hiding. I found them, one after the other, in their usual hideaways in the backyard of Apung Cula. But, there was still one missing and, until I found that little boy, I was still “it” for this game of hide-and-go-seek. I had looked for him in every nook and cranny and still there was no sign of him. Finally, I decided to check the one place that no one in their right mind would have thought to hide in: the ditch right next to the house. There he was, crouching in the sewer: this silly soul stinking to high heaven. I do not know what he was sorrier for: that I had found him or that he had holed up for some twenty minutes in the gutter. Either way, it was his loss.
It all started as a game of hide-and-go-seek; it ended up as a game of hide-and-go-stink.
Countless generations have played this game of hide-and-go-seek since the time Adam and Eve invented it in that primeval Paradise. It all started when the Lord God came in the afternoon air to visit the first man and the first woman in the garden (cf. Gn. 3:8). It used to be that they would run to meet Him, but this time they were nowhere near to greet Him. “They hid themselves from the Lord God among the trees of the garden” (Gn. 3:8). God called out, “Where are you?” (Gn. 3:9) but Adam would not say where they were at. Adam and Eve feared, for the first time in their lives, that they would be exposed (cf. Gn. 3:10). It never bothered them before that they were naked, but this time they had something to hide: a sin of disobedience, an indiscretion that they did not want God to find out. So they walked away from God; they hid themselves from His sight. I do not know what they were sorrier for: that they got found out or that they had dragged themselves down into the same ditch as that crawling creature, the serpent. Either way, it was our loss as a human race.
But, when the fullness of time came to be, God sent His angel to seek out in the middle of nowhere Nazareth a member of our race who had nothing to hide. The angel asked the Virgin Mary if she would be the Mother of our Savior and she responded: “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord” (Lk. 1:38), that is to say, Here I am, ready to serve God. Finally, here was one who was not going to hide behind any excuses, one who would not skip on the responsibility. She was full of grace instead of fallen from grace. She said ‘Yes!’ to God and she meant it. It was, for the human race, a gain like no other.
The history of our salvation is the record of this continuous game of hide-and-go-seek between us and God. We hide away in the sewers of sin, we silly souls who stink up to high Heaven. Yet, God seeks us out and invites us to be bathed by His mercy from every blame and blemish so that we too might be like Mary, the new Mother of all the Living: “without spot or blemish”—in a word, immaculate—as He had intended “before the foundation of the world” (Eph. 1:4).
It all started as a game of hide-and-go-seek. But, God invites us to make sure that it does not end with us staying lost, but with us being found worthy of Himself.