At that time Jesus said, "I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. Yes, Father, for this was your good pleasure.
Does God choose to whom He reveals himself, or does He reveal Himself to everyone but some people fail to recognise Him?
The Bible tells us that God resists the proud as well as those who are insincere toward Him. He reveals Himself to those who seek Him with a humble and sincere heart. So yes, He reads our hearts and chooses to reveal Himself to those who are receptive to Him, those capable of hearing. He Himself told us not to cast our pearls before swine.
On the other hand, being God, He does what He wants and can certainly reveal Himself if He chooses to anyone. Witness St. Paul or any other dramatic conversion in human history.
In general, as Limoncello4021 stated, God responds to the humble, those who seek and believe in and have a heart for Him.
"And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him." Heb 11:6
He may reveal Himself in more or less profound ways, at His discretion and for His purposes. But the gift of faith, itself, is taught to be “a foretaste of the knowledge that will make us blessed in the life to come”. (CCC184)
Well, look at the evidence. How many really really intelligent people have flatly denied GOD existence both now and before.
This is plainly written in the Scriptures, Old and New Testament and in the letters of St. Paul.
Sure. That’s why Jesus said “go ye therefore to all nations preaching the good news and baptizing them in the name of the father and of the son and of the Holy Spirit.” God doesn’t reveal Himself to everyone because we are supposed to take him to them. Haunting, isn’t it?
I’m just thinking that even when we take the Good News to others, many are unable to accept it because of their pride and hard heartedness. Yet on the other hand many others of previously no faith have a sudden ‘epiphany’ which causes them to come to complete faith.
I suppose that is what I meant by God chooses to whom He will reveal himself.
We start with God desiring a relationship with every single soul. God desires that we come to know him and love him in return. Everyone without exception.
Keeping that in mind as a first principle, how then are we to read this passage? Is it possible that Christ is post facto observing that some have not accepted him? It seems to me this saying is first an observation of the way things are with some people, rather than a statement about God’s ongoing disposition towards us. It cannot be an exclusionary sense of the divine will, because that contradicts the first principle. So to me, Christ is observing the way things are with human beings in relation to God and contrasting the ways that obtain to relationship with God.
God does want us to accept him, and a humble and open heart are necessary for that.
We can’t really believe in anything unless we have something to believe in. Faith is based on knowledge. So Jesus came to reveal the true “face” of God so that we may know Him, in a more direct and definitive manner, know of His existence, first of all, and of His trustworthiness, goodness, mercy, and love. By knowing we may believe, and so come to hope in, and, most importantly, to love Him. And the more we live and express those virtues, the more they grow, and the more God reveals Himself yet; the more “real” He becomes to us IOW. There’s no end to that knowledge, and to the love that it produces, and love defines righteousness and perfection for man which is why the greatest commandments are what they are. Anyway, "Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent." John 17:3
And God’s self revelation is not a force feeding. Grace does not impose itself as in a warped sense of power.
It’s difficult to express the interface between God’s grace and human free will, or the interface between God’s self revelation and our acceptance of it. Hence, this passage is full of mystery.
The one thing we can know for sure is, the child-like disposition that admits it into our lives.
I’m interested in the notion that God reveals himself directly to individuals. Except for the fourth item, “personal experience” on your list of examples (and perhaps to some degree, the fifth item, “reason”) you’ve listed ways God reveals himself to all of us, generally.
In the first part of your original question,
are you asking about God’s personal revelation to an individual?
Believing that God exists is not a matter of revelation. This can be known from natural reason from the things that He has made. This is why St. Paul says there is no excuse for atheism. In fact, this is a precondition for receiving God’s revelation by faith. From the Catechism:
CCC 36 "Our holy mother, the Church, holds and teaches that God, the first principle and last end of all things, can be known with certainty from the created world by the natural light of human reason."11 Without this capacity, man would not be able to welcome God’s revelation. Man has this capacity because he is created “in the image of God”.12
The obligation to honor God as creator (the virtue of religion, which is not a theological virtue) is one of the principles of the moral law, and, as the Church teaches, “no one is deemed to be ignorant of the principles of the moral law, which are written in the conscience of every man.” (CCC 1860).
On the other hand, by faith we believe those mysteries hidden in God which, unless they are divinely revealed, are incapable of being known.
I guess that some people can do / see all of those things and yet be totally unaware of God.
On the question of personal experience I sort of have three examples of this in my own life.
One is brief glimpses of God in moments of joy, what I’ve heard some people call consolation. It’s been a ‘sense’ that God is in His place and all is well in the world. This happens to me from time to time.
The second is an experience so wonderful that I struggle to find words for it, a real ‘mountain top’ experience. It’s a feeling that everything is suddenly ‘one’, and so brilliant and beautiful, almost like a direct experience of God. This has only happened to me three times in my life, but changed me from believing in God by faith to being 100% sure of His existence.
The final one, at 60, is reflecting on my life and seeing how it has changed for the better since I came to faith in my 30’s.