Monday, June 20, 2011

God Is A Mystery

This past Saturday, I attended Mass. Usually, I do not attend Saturday Mass but I had offered to help a friend after Mass and planned to sing for the choir if needed.  As God would have it, I am glad I went because in the homily, Father Hermes explained a bit about why we can honestly say that God is a mystery.  Coincidentally, it was just a few weeks ago when my brother (a fallen-away Catholic who is now an agnostic) asked me why it is that so much of what the Church teaches is a mystery, and specifically why God is a mystery.

Father Hermes explained that there are really three kinds of mysteries known to mankind.  There is the kind of mystery which is intended as a lame effort to excuse ignorance or end a conversation.  Thus, when a child might ask his parents why something happened but the parents don't really know the answer and don't wish the child to continue asking questions, they might tell the child, "It's a mystery".  This is the least useful of all types of mysteries, and one which leads the child to doubt and disbelief.

The second kind of mystery is one in which the facts are not all apparent but which has a definitive outcome.  This is the kind of mystery encountered when investigating a crime, or solving a puzzle. You know that at the end there is a single answer to be had, all that is necessary is to find and fit together all of the facts.  Many people are of the belief that God, the Holy Trinity, The Eucharist, and The Sacraments are all this kind of mystery.  They seem to be of the opinion that if we just had enough facts, we could find the truth and gain a complete understanding of them.  They are led into disbelief or doubt when they continue to search without finding a satisfying or complete answer.

However, there is a third kind of mystery.  It is the mystery of invitation to understanding. This kind of  mystery never ends.  There is always more to understand, more to reveal, more to experience.  This is the kind of mystery that God is.  Even should we spend an eternity getting to know God and to understand Him, there would always be more there to know and to explore and to understand.

As I sat there in the pew, I realized that God is a mystery in the same way that every human being is a mystery.  I have known my husband for almost 20 years, and yet he is still a mystery to me. I do not know his every feeling, his every thought, or the reason for every action that he takes. I will never know all of this. Much of it changes on a daily basis, updated based upon new encounters and experiences.  Should we spend the lifetime together that we plan to spend, he will still be as much of a mystery to me on the day that I die as he is today.

Since the Trinity, the Sacraments, the Eucharist, and the Church herself are all extensions of God it is only natural that they, too, should remain a mystery to us. We may strive a lifetime to really grasp them fully but we will never succeed in knowing everything about them.  There will always be more to understand, to reveal, and to experience. There is nothing boring about faith.  There is always some new discovery to be made in God and His creation. Thank God that He is a mystery.

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