Despite the fact that as human beings we are very social beings by nature, the truth is that much of our deepest personal life is hidden from others. What we think about things, what we think of others, remains private to ourselves, unless we choose to reveal these thoughts to others. The same holds true in terms of our human emotions. How we feel about things and about other people is also hidden within our hearts unless we manifest those emotions in one way or another. But perhaps the most hidden aspect of our lives lies in our spiritual life. Most of us do not find it easy to reveal the state of our spiritual being, how we pray or how we experience the presence of God in our daily lives.
Yet unless we are aware of our own hidden life we run the risk of our faith being shallow and undeveloped. We might easily attend Holy Mass each Sunday and yet never move deeper into a living personal relationship with God. So, one of the real challenges of our life is to create space for our hidden self, our inmost being, that we might find our real treasure in that which is largely hidden, in our heart seeking the God who loves us so intimately.
This was one of the desires expressed by St Paul in his wonderful prayer written for the Christian community at Ephesus:
“This, then, is what I pray, kneeling before the Father, from whom every family, whether spiritual or natural, takes its name:
Out of his infinite glory, may he give you the power through his Spirit for your hidden self to grow strong, so that Christ may live in your hearts through faith, and then, planted in love and built on love, you will with all the saints have strength to grasp the breadth and the length, the height and the depth; until, knowing the love of Christ, which is beyond all knowledge, you are filled with the utter fullness of God.” (Ephesians 3: 14-9)
We can easily find the grace to allow our inner hidden self to grow strong by reflecting on the life of the Holy Family. It is quite astonishing that most of the details of the life of Jesus are not revealed to us in the Gospels. Apart from the story of the birth of Jesus, and a moment in his life when he was 12 years old, the Gospels only reveal details about the public life of Jesus, which lasted for three years.
After Jesus had gone up to the temple with his parents at the age of 12, and was lost to them for three days, we are left with only a glimpse of his personal life: “Meanwhile the child grew to maturity, and he was filled with wisdom; and God’s favour was with him” (Luke 2:39-40).
So, we are invited simply to reflect prayerfully on these long hidden years of Jesus as he grew into spiritual maturity in the presence of Mary his mother, and with St Joseph. May we too ask for the grace that our hidden self should grow strong and that we may grow into the maturity of a deep faith in Christ. In this manner, we will also discover the truth that God’s favour rests on us too.
Fr Gerard, CSsR