I want you to think back on your childhood, specifically the time that you played hide and seek. So, remember the times you played hide and seek, and the thrill and the adventure that came with that time. Now I am lucky enough to have nieces and nephews, so I still get to play hide and seek, and sometimes when I’m watching TV, I will just let them hide and not seek them. But the funny thing is, the game of hide and seek doesn’t really last that long. So, if you think about it, my niece and nephews hide, and if I don’t come pretty immediately to find them, they start to get restless. And so, you’ll notice first they’ll start to maybe knock on the wall or to start to make noise to give me a clue as to where they are. And as I get closer to them, you might notice some giggling coming from behind the closet. And some whispering between the two of them. They can’t wait to be found. And so, by the time I find them, they’re so excited to be found.
I want to use that as an image for our spiritual life and in our readings today. And I want to focus on God being the one who is hidden. And he wants to be found. He gives us ways, he gives us clues as to how to find him, and when we find him, he is so excited to be found, he cannot wait for us to find him. So, think about that image of that hide and seek and how much that person that is hiding actually wants to be found. We hear in the first book today, the Book of Samuel. And Samuel is interesting because he’s sleeping day and night in the temple. He’s one of the priests of the temple. So, he’s sleeping there day and night. And the Lord calls to him in the middle of the night. Samuel wakes up from sleep, hears this call, and he goes to Eli. He said, “Hey, did you call me?” And Eli is like, “No, go back to sleep.” And it happens again. Second time, “Go back to sleep.” And then there’s a third time, “Go back to sleep.”
Notice in scripture, anytime there’s a three of something it’s kind of hearkening to the idea of infinite. And so even though he doesn’t recognize God’s call, God keeps calling him. And so, infinitely in our lives, even though we don’t recognize God’s call sometimes, He keeps calling us. He can’t wait for us to find him. So finally, Samuel goes the last time to him and he says, “Oh, this must be the Lord. Go back to sleep.” And when you listen, when you hear him say, “Speak, Lord, your servant is listening.” And the interesting thing? There’s a phrase there that says Samuel was not yet familiar with the Lord. And yet he’s sleeping night and day in the temple. But he’s not yet familiar with the Lord.
Think about our church and what we’re called to in this new Evangelization, especially this year of the Eucharist. We’re called to be familiar with the Lord. And sometimes I know that we can come to Mass almost every Sunday of our lives, and for some reason we don’t have that encounter with God that is real. And that’s the number one reason when people leave the Catholic Church. They’ll say, ‘I never had a personal experience with God.’
I think, wow, how did we miss that? Because he’s here in the Eucharist. So, God will keep calling us over and over and over and he keeps inviting us to find him hidden. But the interesting thing too, is that Samuel is supposed to say, “Speak, Lord, your servant is listening” Now, I think sometimes in our culture, in our church, especially personally, we say things differently to God. We say, “Hey listen, God, your servant is speaking,” right? Instead of, “Speak, Lord, your servant is listening.” We say, “Listen, God, your servant is speaking.” Why? Because we have trouble listening. We have trouble being in silence. We have trouble hearing God’s voice sometimes in our lives. But know that God wants to speak to us. And if we are silent, if we spend time in silence with him, he will speak. But it’s only in silence.
Mother Teresa had a great line, and she said that: “The fruit of silence is prayer, the fruit of prayer is faith, the fruit of faith is love, the fruit of love is service and the fruit of service is peace.” And so, we will experience peace in our time of silence. And we hear in the gospel today, the first call of the disciples. So, John the Baptist points out Jesus and says, “Here is the one.” And two of the disciples, (they don’t name them yet), they go to the Lord. And the first thing they say to him is, “Lord, where are you staying? Let us come and stay with you.”
So, they go and stay with the Lord. And the Lord reveals himself to them again. They didn’t know him yet. They weren’t familiar with him yet at this point. So, he reveals himself to them. And when they have that personal encounter with God, we hear that one of the two was Andrew. And Andrew, the first thing that he does is he runs to his brother. He goes first to somebody immediately in his family. He goes to his brother and he says we have found the Messiah. He’s so excited to share that good news and invite his brother to follow Jesus. When we discover the Messiah, when we experience God, when we have this personal encounter, when we find him hiding from us, we can’t help but tell other people where he is. We can’t help but share that experience.
But it’s interesting because we have those two phrases. So, in the first reading, he was not familiar with God, even though he’d been in the temple all those years and nights. Sometimes many of us come to Mass every Sunday. And we’re still not familiar with that. We’ve not had that personal encounter. And the disciples had heard about the Messiah, but they didn’t know who he was. It took John the Baptist saying, “Behold, the lamb of God.” So, it’s important, first of all, that we ourselves have this personal encounter. In Mass, when we pray in silence, coming to Eucharistic Adoration, taking opportunities to learn in the parish and to be together. But once having had that encounter, we can’t help but spread the good news.
And I think this is a greater challenge for us today, what’s called the New Evangelization. So, we are called to first of all have the Evangelization in ourselves, which is the personal encounter of Christ. And then once we do, to go and share him with the world and invite other people, just like Andrew did to the Lord. And so, my question is, have you found the Messiah? Are you familiar with the Lord? Have you had that personal encounter of discovering him? And if so, how we inviting people? Because everyone gets invited into the faith. From the very beginning it was Andrew who went to his brother Peter and invited him into the faith.
Now the difficult thing is, the source and summit of our lives is the Eucharist. But if somebody doesn’t really know the Lord and or know Jesus, or has been away from the Church for 30 years or had a difficult situation in their lives, sometimes this isn’t the easiest place to bring them. Because in the Eucharist, they can actually feel uncomfortable because they come and they’re not quite ready to receive. So, they have to either go through the process of Christian initiation, the rite of initiation, or they have to experience him first in confession. And it’s important that we’re familiar with the Lord. That not only at Mass that we come here and experience God together. Whether we spend time in adoration, we take every opportunity we can to learn more about God, especially the Tuesday night sessions that we’re having, that we ourselves go to confession so that we can know that it’s a good experience.
I promise you, if you come to confession and ask me, just say, Father, I’m nervous. Be gentle. I’m never not gentle. But tell me to be gentle. I’ll be gentle with you. And then you can go out and say that priest, he’s really good, and if it’s not me, go to another parish. Find another priest you can go to confession that you get comfortable with and say I found a good priest. It’s like saying I found the Messiah. Christ is working in that sacrament. Adoration too. Sometimes we don’t know the words even to say to people, but we could just say to them, hey, I love going and praying and adoration. Will you come and just spend an hour with me? That’s all you have to do is bring them to adoration.
Bring them to one of our Tuesday night teachings, where they can learn about God and the Eucharist. These are all ways that we can invite people into the faith. These are all ways that we can help people find and discover Jesus. Because we have a world that is looking for the Messiah. We have a world that is looking for Jesus. They may not even realize it. But Jesus is also dying for them to meet him. He’s so excited when people discover him. He’s like a child hiding in the closet, and he just can’t wait to be discovered. He’s giggling and smiling and he’s ready to receive that person. As we celebrate this Eucharist, let us ask the Lord just to set our hearts on fire, to have this personal encounter with him, to become familiar with him, to know and experience him as the Messiah. Have that personal encounter. And then to place in our hearts someone to share that with. Someone to invite back to the faith. As hard as it is, but remember it’s supposed to be an exciting experience for us to invite people back. Because we have found the Messiah. We are familiar with the Lord. And we do know that when people find him, He will be extremely delighted and excited.