Have you ever gone to an event where you didn’t know anyone but the friend who invited you? You go together, but as soon as you walk in, he sees someone else he knows, crosses the room, and leaves you alone. You don’t know who to talk to, whether to stay or go, follow your friend or wait for him to come back… It’s awkward.

But maybe you’ve also experienced having a friendly stranger come up to you. They introduce themselves and a few of the people near the entrance, ask how you heard about the event, get to know you a bit, and make you feel comfortable. Because of that stranger, you know you’re welcome to stay for the rest of the evening. In a small way they’ve “saved” you with their thoughtful interest and eagerness to help. Someone cares about you, and that makes all the difference.

We’ve all gone through something like that, and the experience helps us to appreciate one of Jesus’ defining characteristics: you matter to Him. He wants you to feel included and important, never lost and alone. He wants to see you happy and smiling. He wants you to know that you are loved.

Not long ago I read a post that said, “If you fold this piece of paper 206 times, it will be thicker than the universe.” If you fold a paper in half 206 times, it will be thicker than the size of the known universe, which is about 88,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 km.

Here’s the thing: if you fold a paper in half 206 times, its size will be much smaller than God’s love for you. It’s a bit daunting to try to tell you about God’s love in a page and a half, but you can be sure that it’s greater than the entire universe. 

So God loves you more than the universe and He wants to be close to you. With this in mind: here’s an invitation: become an atheist.

Yes, an atheist. But an atheist of the boring God in your head (cf. Pérez Villahoz, Antonio, A Dios le importas). He doesn’t exist, and no one could fall in love with Him. Have you ever seen anyone in love with somebody boring?

Become an atheist of the controlling, policing God who keeps spreadsheets of your sins and faults. Become an atheist of the slow, ponderous God who could never understand you. Become an atheist of the God who only wants you to visit on Sundays. Become an atheist of the bland God: He doesn’t exist.

Instead, get to know Jesus. He is the true God. He’s alive, and He suffered the pain of the Cross so that you – yes, you, reading this now – can smile and be happy. He wants to be your best friend, to hear all your thoughts, big and small. He wants to know what pains you and what brings you joy, when you’re happy and when you’re sad, when you feel proud and when you’re disappointed in yourself.

Get to know Christ, who loves you and gave his all so you’d never have to be alone.

Getting to know Jesus might seem difficult because we can’t see Him physically. He’s not like the friendly stranger at the event we were talking about before. Actually, He’s quite quiet. He’s calm in the Tabernacle, waiting.

In the “Adoro te devote” prayer which literally begins, “I adore You devoutly, God hidden, truly hidden beneath these appearances,” St. Thomas Aquinas writes that in a way Jesus “deceives the senses.” We can’t see, hear, or touch Him, but He’s truly there in the Tabernacle and in the Mass.

A priest once asked a group of elementary school students what the difference between a Tabernacle and an image of Christ crucified is. One of the kids told him, “On the Cross it seems like He is there, but He isn't. And in the Tabernacle, it seems like He isn't there, but He is.”

You’re invited to get to know this quiet God, who “deceives” our senses but is truly there in the Tabernacle, eager to listen and talk to us. And He listens and waits wherever you are, with another kind of presence. He wants us to tell Him about ourselves and to make Him a part of our daily lives and everything that happens to us.

Getting to know Him is the work of a lifetime, and it’s a fascinating adventure. It means living a life of love, joy, and happiness because you know you’re walking with the Person who loves you most in the whole world.

If you take just one idea from this article, make it this: you matter to God. He cares about what you do, experience, think, and feel. He cares so much that He wants to be part of all of it.

And He loves you madly. After all, He gave his life for you on the Cross, and He can only have done that out of immense love. Even a lifetime isn’t enough to enjoy all the love and joy God wants to give you.