WHEN GOD COMES IN DISGUISE
Do you have eyes of faith to recognize Him?

By Father Jean Pierre de Caussade

St. Paul says: “We walk by faith, not by sight” (2 Cor 5:7). The soul enlightened by faith judges things in a very different way from those who – having only the standard of the senses by which to measure them – ignore the inestimable treasure they contain.

Consider this analogy: Whoever knows that a certain person in disguise is the king will behave toward him very differently from someone who, perceiving only an ordinary man, treats him accordingly. In the same way, the soul that recognizes the will of God in every smallest event, and also in those events that are most distressing and dreadful, receives His will in all things with an equal joy, pleasure and respect.

“Behold, your king is coming to you, humble, and mounted on an ass” (Mt 21:5). The outward appearance of the circumstances we face may be mean and contemptible, but beneath this abject garb, the heart of faith will discover and honor the majesty of the king. The deeper His humility in coming to us in such a guise, the more our hearts fill with love for Him.

God in Bethlehem

Imagine, for example, how the sight of God himself – poor and humble, lodged in a stable, lying on straw, weeping and trembling – pierced the loving heart of Mary! If you were to ask Mary and Joseph, the Magi and the Shepherds, what they found in the Child, they would tell you that they found in His extreme poverty an indescribable tenderness, and an infinite dignity worthy of the majesty of God.

Now imagine, on the other hand, what the inhabitants of Bethlehem would say if you were to ask them what they thought of that same Child. Actually, you know from their behavior just how little they thought of Him – and how, on the other hand, they would have paid great honor to Him had He been lodged in a palace surrounded by princely pomp.

    

  It is one thing to adore Jesus on Mount Tabor, the place of His glorious transfiguration – to accept the will of God in extraordinary circumstances. But a life animated by great faith is more clearly manifested in someone who can love the will of God in ordinary things and who can adore Jesus on the cross at Calvary. For faith cannot be said to be real, living faith until it is rested and has triumphed over every effort for its destruction.

To consider God to be just as good in circumstances that are petty and ordinary as He is in those that are great and uncommon is to have a faith that is not ordinary, but great and extraordinary. To be satisfied with the present moment is to delight in and to adore the divine will in everything we must do or suffer in all the passing events that fill each present moment. Nothing can hide God from the piercing eye of faith.

The Pursuit of God

Mary, when the apostles fled, remained steadfast at the foot of the cross. She owned Jesus as her Son even when He was disfigured with wounds and covered with mud and spittle. The wounds that disfigured Him made Him only more lovable and adorable in the eyes of this tender mother. The more awful the blasphemies uttered against Him, the deeper her veneration for Him.

For us as well, the life of faith is nothing less than the continued pursuit of God through all that disguises Him, disfigures Him, seeks to destroy Him and seems to annihilate Him. Faithful souls endure a constant succession of trials. God hides beneath these veils of darkness and illusory appearances that make His will difficult to recognize. Nevertheless, in spite of every obstacle, souls that see with the eyes of faith follow Him and love Him even to death on the cross. TCA

Father Jean Pierre de Caussade (1675-1751) was a French Jesuit priest and ascetic writer known for his powerful preaching and wise spiritual direction. This excerpt comes from his book “Abandonment to Divine Providence”, published after his death (1867).