How do we come to know God?
That's an important question. If we believe God is real, that He loves us, and that He wants us to know Him, then we definitely need to figure out how to do that.
We live in an age where almost all the information we need is available at our fingertips. I could pull out my phone right now and tell you the capital of Ethiopia. I could order pizza simply by pressing a few buttons. In fact, I could celebrate Mass relying only on my phone for the readings and the prayers. It's incredible!
But knowing God is a whole different matter.
Knowing God isn't about learning information or mastering a technique. It's an encounter with a person - three persons, in fact, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit - and it's only by making that encounter, that relationship, the center of our lives that we will come to know the God who loves us so much.
In our gospel today, Jesus praises the Father saying, "although you have hidden these things from the wise and the learned you have revealed them to little ones."
There's our first clue at what it takes to know God: we have to be little.
Contrary to the way things usually work in the world, getting close to God require humility. You can't earn faith. You can't achieve God's love. It's a free gift that simply has to be received with the heart of a little child.
It's not the people who pride themselves on being "holy" that have the faith to accept who Jesus is, it's the humble - those who know exactly how much they need forgiveness and who they are before God. If we think that we can know our God by our own wisdom or our own willpower, we are only really worshipping ourselves.
Jesus goes on to say, "No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son wishes to reveal him."
In revealing that God exists as a Trinity of persons, Jesus shows us that there is a relationship that we are being welcomed into. If we want to know the Father, Jesus must show us the way.
Before Jesus came into the world, God had revealed himself to humanity - but only partially (Hebrews 1). It is only in the Incarnation of Jesus that the fullness of who God is is revealed to us. Jesus shows us the Father and it only through Jesus that we can come to the knowledge and love of God. Without him, God is a mystery - our reason can tell us that some supreme being probably exists, but only Jesus introduces us to him as a Father.
There are two important ways that we can allow Jesus to reveal the Father to us: the Eucharist and prayer.
In the Eucharist, Jesus gives us himself. He offers us everything he is so that we can become one with him. If we are one with him, then we will be one with the Father. If we are allowing him to live in us, then the life of God will be our life.
That means being faithful to the Mass. We don't just come here to pay our dues and then move on with our lives - this is life. Everything we want and need is being handed to us. We must come here with our hearts, minds, and ears open - ready to receive what the Lord has to offer.
If I feel like I don't get anything out of Mass, then I have to ask myself the question: what do I put into it? Am I bringing my whole self to the Eucharist with the intention of worshipping the Lord no matter what else I have going on that day? Even if I'm distracted a thousand times, do I focus my attention back on what's actually happening? Do I listen with my full attention to the holy Word of God in the Scripture readings? Do I prepare myself by fasting an hour before communion and going to confession when I'm conscious of committing a mortal sin? All this is is our part of making the Eucharist fruitful in our lives.
A second vital way that we as Christians come to know God is through prayer.
This hour on the weekend should never be the only time that we place ourselves in the presence of the Lord. Faith in Christ requires us to have a relationship with him and that requires commitment - a commitment to spend time in prayer everyday.
The problem that we usually run into is that we don't really know how to pray and we get disappointed because nothing seems to happen. Let me tell you something that has greatly helped me: prayer is more about what God does than what we do.
Our "job" in prayer is to come before the Lord and let him love us. That's it.
When worries, questions, or distractions come to our mind, all we have to do is hand them over to Jesus and remain focused on him. It doesn't matter so much how you pray - whether it's using the Scriptures or the Rosary or just sitting quietly - what really matters is that you do it.
If you commit to spending time in prayer everyday, your life will change. God will transform you even if you don't feel like anything is happening. Make that commitment. Jesus says "my yoke is easy, and my burden light." Take on that yoke and surrender your life to God - he will give you the rest you desire.
Brothers and sisters, knowing God is the great project of our lives. If we fail in that, then nothing else that we do really matters. Let's make that commitment to come to know God by meeting Jesus in the Eucharist and in prayer. If we do our part, he, who is faithful, loving, and merciful, will always do his.