Today’s gospel has got to have one of the scariest passages in the entire Bible! The Lord tells us: “For there is nothing hidden except to be made visible; nothing is secret except to come to light.”
What?! I don’t know about you, but I’m hoping that the Lord is just being poetic here and has no intention of being taken literally. Just imagine what he means. Everyone’s going to know everything about you: your most private–and uncharitable–thoughts, your deepest, darkest secrets, things about yourselves that even you would prefer to forget and not think about. Imagine all these resurrected at the end of time and haunting you in full view of everyone! The afterlife–wherever you end up with–is going to be pretty intolerable because of that!
So my question today is: “Are they going to know all my secrets?”
Of course we all try our best to be good, to think well of others and to extend kindness to them. But who among us isn’t broken? Who among us isn’t vulnerable to sin? Because of the things we do, everyone has a shadow, and sometimes the shadow we cast can be quite dark and long. And whether we like it or not, wherever we go, we take our shadow with us. Only, we don’t advertise it, of course. We try to hide it as we should.
Now the Lord seems to be telling us that every shadow we’ve cast, every dark side we have–all this will be exposed in time. What a nightmare! So what to do?
In his book Against An Infinite Horizon, Ronald Rolheiser talks about a woman who because of her emotional complexity has committed things in her youth and even in the recent past that she knows will surprise and scandalize others. She is a person respected by many, and precisely for this reason, she fears that her “hidden life” will, as the Lord says in the passage, one day be exposed. This is what she has to say:
“I realized that in my life there are not only bad things that are hidden, but many good things too. If all of my darkest moments and thoughts woudl ever be fully exposed, those who know me would be, I think, genuinely shocked. Conversely though, if all the hidden acts of virtue, dedication, duty, kindness, and charity that I have ever done (which are also hidden and taken for granted, not rewarded, not properly recognized) were exposed and brought to full light, I think my family and circle of friends would also be genuinely shocked and surprised.”
She has a point. All of us have a hidden dark life, but we can also all nurture a hidden grace life. This sounds easier said than done, but when, for example, someone takes credit for a good that you have done, it’s not exactly easy keeping quiet and allowing your good deeds to remain hidden, is it? But that’s what keeping a hidden life of grace sometimes entails. And that’s going to be the challenge–and the beauty–of this strange and stealthy way of being good.
Here’s a Quick Question for you: “What do you think about living a ‘hidden grace life’?” Think about it, and share a thought, a feeling, or a question.