Into the Mystery
  • Sunday, October 21, 2012

Pentecost 21

First reading: Job 38:1-7 (34-41); Ps. 104:1-8, 25, 37b Alternate: Isa. 53:4-12; Ps. 91:9-16 • Heb. 5:1-10 • Mark 10:35-45

We know the Son of suffering who had been sealed away for centuries. The prophet Isaiah had been his preeminent witness, but others cried too of the suffering that had fallen as a pall upon the nation. How long? “The prophecy stands in the book of Isaiah,” the young Michael Ramsey reminded us, “mysterious, baffling, uninterpreted by the race for which it had been written” (The Gospel and the Catholic Church, p. 16).

Interpreted now by the witnesses of the one who died and rose again, it is still baffling, but it has gained the quality of a deeper mystery precisely because it is known. We know that Jesus suffered and died and rose again. We know that his suffering is our suffering, and his death our death. We have been buried with him. We are, as he was from the cross, finished! He gave his life into the hands of the Father, as do we.

Having thus died in union with Christ, we still live, but the life we live is not our own. The old humanity is over; a new creation has begun. And yet turning to our left or our right, casting our eyes in forethought to the future or in recollection to a layered past, we see suffering everywhere. Dear Christian, admit that you are living in a Jewish world, waiting for the Messiah. You know him, to be sure, for he is the grace of your being, the bread of your bones, the sip of your surviving, but he is also the one who sends you into the valley of the shadow of death. There, moment by moment, you await him. Your longing soul is a fit home for his daily arrival.

Jesus took his ordination vows as the begotten of the Father before all ages. An eternal priest who is himself the reception of all that the Father is, and a free offering in love of all that the Father has given, he takes in time something new. For the eternal Word assumes our nature as a substance wed to his person forever. Thus he is ever with us and we with him. Being human, “he learned obedience through what he suffered; and having been made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him” (Heb. 5:8,9). His offering then is an elevation of our life and nature to the Father. We are hidden with God in Christ. Thus we live before the throne of grace with open access to the Father’s heart. Jesus is in the bosom of the Father where we also are hid (John’s prologue). Still, this is bafflement and mystery.

Having been caught up into the life of the Son, we no longer see from a human point of view. We are ready to know, and to see that all knowing is inexhaustible. “Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth? Who determined its measurements? Who stretched the line upon it? On what were its bases sunk, or who laid its cornerstone when the morning stars sang together and all the heavenly beings shouted for joy?” (Job 38). Clap your hands all you astronomers and physicists, for you are closer to the building blocks of all creations, and still infinitely far from the “silence of the Father” (Ignatius of Antioch).

Come into this mystery of your dying and rising and you will have entered the mystery of all being.

Look It Up
Read Mark 10:45. Give yourself.

Think About It
His silence is not obstinate, but a witness to his being, for he is the Word proceeding from the silence of the Father.

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