Most of us have experienced various kinds of encounters with God. We have seen Him, for example, in the world of nature. We have felt His presence under the breathtaking beauty of a starlit night. We have almost read His signature in the lower right-hand corner of a sunset. We have heard His voice in the wind as it gently rustles the leaves of a tree.
We have also met Him inside of our own hearts and minds. We have felt His comforting presence in times f sorrow and His troubling presence in times of sin. His image is indelibly stamped on every one of us; and try as we might at times, we can never completely ease it. The psalmist saw the truth about himself and about us, when he wrote, “I give you thanks that I am fearfully and wonderfully made.” Every one of us, I hope, knows what it is to meet God in the secret chamber of our own heart.
We have also seen Him in the lives of other people. C. S. Lewis once said that when he gets to heaven and enters the presence of God, he does not anticipate a strange face, of whom he will say, “Who are you?” Instead he expected a familiar face, to whom he would say, “So it was you all the time.” If we are fortunate and discerning, there are people in our lives today who will reveal God to us.
But we can also meet Him in the services and the sacraments of the Church. You see, the singing of hymns at Mass, the reading of Scripture, the preaching of the gospel, the celebrating of Mass, the receiving of communion are all avenues of approach to God. We would probably be less than honest if we said that God is real to us every time we come to Church. But on the other hand, we would have to be spiritually blind and deaf to come to Church week after week and never see His face, feel his presence, or hear His voice.
We are talking about meeting God – in the beauty and majesty of nature, in the secret recesses of our own hearts and minds, in the lives of people that we know and love, and in the services and sacraments of our Church. All of these are real places of spiritual encounter where people across the centuries have met face to face with God.
We need to look with ever-increasing expectation for the encounter with God each day of our lives. God is all around us waiting to break into our lives. We need to know that, and we need to teach that fact to one another, especially to the young.
Literally, hundreds of our own neighbors will come to Church this week to proclaim this message through song, through witness, through liturgy. Everyone who participates in Mass this week will leave overwhelmed by their encounter with God. Many will leave with heart and mind renewed.
Will you come to Mass this week and encounter the God who lives you?