Monday, June 11, 2012

Hide and Seek

Back in the time when it was not unusual for neighborhood kids to gather together and literally “play games”, the one that was quite popular was  “Hide and Seek”. Remember those days?

Amidst our diversity, perhaps, that one game could be the one thread that weaves through our varied cultural “yarns” of memorable yesteryears. That game has been played practically all over the world and I’m sure we all have played a version of that game at one point in our life.

And while we’re on that subject, I wonder which part did you like better. I suppose it was the “hiding” part, right? I myself hated those times when I got to be the “It” especially when I end up doing it for several rounds. I just couldn’t fugure where those rascals were. Obviously, the “hiding” part was the best one. You agree? We became so creative in finding those tight places the “It” would most likely not figure out!

Hide and Seek! Quite a game, indeed!

What is so intriguing about this “Hide and Seek” game is that it has actually ceased to be a mere child’s game. Full grown adults have not outgrown this game; it has become so much a part of their nature; the “hiding” part especially. So, for our reflection today, I’d like us to revisit a version of this “game” and see how everyone has learned to play it in real life. Hopefully, my reflection will also help us see its application in our spiritual life as we “hide” because of our sin and how God “seeks” us, because of His grace.

This version of “Hide and Seek” traces its beginnings back to the great story of Adam and Eve found in the second Creation Story in the Book of Genesis. Yes, you heard me right; there are two different Creation stories.

In the second Creation Story we read of how Adam was created; placed in the Garden of Eden, with the specific instructions that he could have any fruit in the garden except for the forbidden fruit. The story includes how God created other companions for Adam; like birds and small animals but when Adam felt so alone, God formed Eve out of Adam’s rib and was made to be Adam’s mate. The chapter ends by saying that they (Adam and Eve) were both naked but were not bothered by it.

The first seven verses of the third chapter tell us how the serpent began to suggest to Eve that what God warned them about was not really true. Instead, that they will become wiser and could be like God. And Eve took the first bite and gave it to Adam who ate it too and both committed the very first willful disobedience of God’s command; sin.

 Our Old Testament lesson for this Sunday brings us to that point where Adam and Eve had just eaten of the forbidden fruit and something went wrong.

“During that day’s cool evening breeze, they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden; and the man and his wife hid themselves from the Lord God in the middle of the garden’s trees.” (Genesis 3:8 CEB)

Thus was how this “Hide and Seek” game all began. Adam and Eve “hid” from God in order to conceal their nakedness, an issue that has not bothered the two prior to their eating of the forbidden fruit.

And yet, something about its grave implications leads us to regard it to be more than just a game. It had more to do with how a faithful relationship was about to be severed. It had more to do with having offended God. It had something to do with that willful disobedience we call Sin.

God, continuing his leisurely walk and presumably not finding Adam and Eve from their usual hangout corner in the Garden, asks them: “Where are you?”

Now, unlike in our own childhood version of the game “Hide and Seek” where we keep so quiet we could almost hear our own heartbeat, in this case, Adam and Eve actually divulged their location by their “telling” God of the reason they are in hiding. It was because they are “naked”.

That’s not, however, the real reason why they went into hiding! The Omniscient One already knew it. But God wants to confirm this; and so God questions them further. It is at this juncture when Adam and Eve played another game. It’s called the “Blame Game”, a more damaging enterprise where one’s culpability is passed on to someone other than the real culprit.

And this was how Adam laid out his argument: “The woman you put here with me – she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it.” Notice how Adam tries to transfer culpability to Eve. Adam now says that it’s Eve’s fault but by adding “The woman YOU PUT HERE” what Adam is really saying is, “It’s your fault, God. You put the woman here with me.”

Adam does not only play the “Hide and Seek” game – hiding from accountability but also “blames” the whole losing game on someone else, Eve, who, in turn, blames the snake – it’s the snake’s fault. Adam and Eve are now caught up in both games “Hide and Seek” and “Blame Game” – hiding from accountability and “blaming” the fault to someone else.
Adam and Eve are now trapped in the self-destructive pattern of hiding from God, and trying to argue their way out of trouble. But with God – this kind of thing does not work – it will only lead them to their fall.

This “passing” of the proverbial “buck” is often viewed with an air of nonchalance. It’s like saying, “So what’s the big deal? It’s just a story. Who cares?”

The more I think of it, the more I get concerned that there are actually more of those who find affinity with this kind of attitude and if that is the case, may I suggest then that, perhaps, they take another look at it; for by doing so, they’ll realize that this whole business of “Hide and Seek” and “Blame Game” actually allude to how our world pretty much behaves nowadays.

Like our first parents Adam and Eve, we try to hide from our accountability by playing the “Blame Game” as well. For example, some people would say: “It’s not my fault that my Ego is so bloated,” and then adds: “In our world today, you have to look out for number one.” In other words, it’s the world’s fault that he has turned out to be selfish and egocentric.

Another example might sound something like this. “It’s not my fault that I said those nasty things to my wife. I had a hard day at work.”  See how the blame is being transferred? He’s not responsible for the hurtful words he mouthed off. It’s really the workplace’s fault. Not him. Had the workplace not given him a bad day, things would have been different.

In a different and more serious sense, there are many people today who are playing the “Hide and Seek” game – “hiding” from God. And the reason for it is that deep down in their hearts, they feel the guilt – deep down inside their being, they know that they have sinned and that they are accountable to God – but they don’t want to deal with it, and so they “hide from God”.

This is why the moment you bring God in your conversation with them, they’d run in the opposite direction – they’d be hiding from God. This is why many people get uncomfortable when you begin God-talk. Sooner or later they had to face their Creator who will bring accountability into the picture and they don’t like any of that at all.

Hiding from God or hiding from accountability as well as playing the “Blame Game” – they both contribute to the serious damage that happens to our relationship with our fellow creatures and, ultimately, to our relationship with God. And as it was for Adam and Eve, so it is for us today.

And while that is the story often cited to explain Man’s Great Fall, there is also a comforting message in that story. Just when we would normally expect outright punishment for each committed crime, we note this hope of reconciliation offered by God as He asks for Adam and Eve's whereabouts as they played the “Hide and Seek” game with him.

He called them out; seeking them out and when they tried to cover up their offense by alluding instead to their nakedness, he questions them: “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?”

Indeed, how good it is that we have a God who seeks out his creation, for no other reason but because of His grace alone. God wouldn’t let them continue the path of self-destructive behavior and in the apparent absence of owning up their culpability by blaming each other, God didn’t hammer down his gavel of judgment.

Instead, he told them what he was about to do. With Adam and Eve listening intently, God announced his plan for the history of mankind. It was a plan that would put to end the Devil and hail victory for God and his people.

God spoke to Satan these words. “And I will put contempt between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.” (Genesis 3:14)  

Humanity made friends with the Devil with their falling into sin; thereby causing hostility between God and Man.  But God would correct the wrong that Sin has done. God would place hostility where it belonged once and for all – between the Devil and God’s people. 

As a result of that first sin, God’s people would struggle against Satan’s temptations, but as a result of this promise, God would help them reconcile with their Maker.  The greatest showdown of this battle took place when God himself came down to earth taking on human flesh and through the virgin birth became the offspring of the woman. 

The Devil unleashed all his rage against the Son of God, but it ended in futility.  Yes, Satan struck the “heel” of our Savior, but on the Day of Resurrection, the Devil’s head was “crushed”.  With the Resurrection of Christ Jesus, the final victory had been won. 

Brothers and Sisters in the Lord, walking our Faith Journey is not always a smooth one. There will be times, as they have already been in the past for some of us, when we will fall on the same temptation that Eve and Adam have had.

Their story is our story too. Yet, there’s that one lesson we must learn from theirs and that is that no matter how grievous our offenses are, God will not allow us to wander off to paths of destruction. He will always yell out: “Where are you?”

We need not stay in “hiding” from our accountability. If we have sinned, then let’s admit and confess that we have sinned. At each Eucharist, we hear the words often read out loud by the Deacon. “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. But if we confess, God, who is faithful and just, will forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” Those words should preoccupy our minds each time we “hide” away from God.

And so I pray that we be bold enough to say to the “Divine It” here I am. Forgive me. Heal me. Restore me. Love me with that Unconditional Love you had for all who truly turn to you for help. Help me to refrain from playing any “Blame Game” because I know that you will always be there to receive me “Just As I Am”.

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