ON THE FRONTIER OF DIVINE MYSTERY
READ: Ecclesiasticus 43
“The glory of the stars makes the beauty of the sky, a brilliant adornment of the Lord on High. At the words of the Holy One the stars stand as God decrees, and never grow slack in the keeping of their watch. See the rainbow and praise its Maker, so superbly beautiful in its splendor. Across the sky it forms a glorious arc drawn by the hands of the Most High… We could say much more and still fall short; to put it concisely, ‘God is all!’ … Where shall we find sufficient power to glorify God, since God is the Great One, above all His works, that awe-inspiring Lord, … Many mysteries remain greater than these, for we have seen only a few of God’s works, the Lord having created all things and given wisdom to those who are devout.” – Ecclesiasticus 43:9-12, 27-29a, 32-33
“And you have put on a new self in Christ which will progress towards true knowledge the more it is renewed in the image of its Creator … There is only Christ; He is everything and in everything.” – Colossians 3;10, 11b
Today, I worked in the kitchen with Father Henri, a visiting Benedictine priest from France. We washed dishes and pots and talked theology and science. Father Henri came to visit his sister, a nun in the nearby convent. Father Henri also teaches physics at the Catholic University of Lyon in France. Add to this … he is one of the researchers at the Large Hadron Collider situated near Geneva, Switzerland. Father Henri is a man of two seemingly far distant worlds, the one, the world of contemplative monasticism, the other, the world of sophisticated mathematics and particle physics. And what I found most intriguing and inspiring about Father Henri is the comfort with which he embraces the most ancient of monastic ways and the most recent of scientific discoveries, embracing them both with open arms. And as we washed dishes and pots and talked theology and science … I found my soul lifted into higher and higher realms of praise at all the Wonders of God, even those Wonders just now being discovered. And I kept thinking as we shared, and I am still thinking … how tragic it is by how we confine God in the past of our human understanding.
Yesterday, I received back my graded semester exam in Medieval European History. My exam received a 91, technically a B+, but, with grace, you could call it an A-. Not bad for me … a weary headed, old man from the backwoods of Canada! But on one of my essays, the professor wrote a surprising and most insightful comment. He wrote …”YOUR ANSWER IS CORRECT, BUT IT COULD BE MORE SUFFICIENT!” Wow .. how true … how true about my essay and how true about so much of our understanding of God’s Creation and the Realm of God. So often … we as Christians … are correct in our understanding of the faith and the Christian life … yet we fail the test of humble wisdom by not recognizing that … our understanding could be … so much more sufficient.
Assurance is God’s way of giving us confidence that we ARE on the right track … but humility … is God’s way of reminding us that we have so much more yet to learn. One of the problems, a most common and nearly epidemic problem, is the Christian community labeling all thought as either right or wrong. Sometimes our present grasp of the truth would be far more accurately described as “…correct but still it could be so much more sufficient.”
Father Henri shared that science is about … discovery and mystery. Father Henri explained, “Science is always at the frontier that divides the world of “what-we-think-we-know” from the world of “what-we-have-yet-to-know”, and if our Christian theology is ever to be a valid expression of Truth, then we in Christ must live with the same sense of humble wisdom, confessing that God is still revealing to us, more and more of the Mysteries.” Father Henri expressed his frustration with the foolish arrogance displayed by many of his colleagues. “They too often speak … as if we already fully understand!”
And I fear that this might also be said of many Christians … “We too often speak …as if we already fully understand!”
Easy answers. Easy answers, quickly learned. So much of our contemporary Christian Church is about easy answers, quickly learned. I see it in conservative expressions of the faith and I see it in progressive expressions of the faith … this settling for easy answers, quickly learned, but seldom explored ever further. We catch a few verses, a few maxims and mottoes, a few principles and postulates, here and there … and we market it as Truth, the Whole Truth, and No Further Need to Deepen the Truth. So much of this elementary Christianity is correct in its limited way … but still … it could be, and so needs to be, so much more sufficient.
In Christ and in Christ’s Spirit, we have been placed on the frontier of God’s Truth, the place where the very active God is revealing to us more and more of His Creation and His Emerging Realm.. It is the living faith to be with Jesus, not back there in ancient days, but in the living of this Present Moment – when and where the living, speaking, creating God is transforming more and more of the Mystery into more and more of our discovery.
My loved ones, whatever your age … allow the Lord to keep revealing … the more Sufficient Understanding! Be open to God’s Spirit and let the God who reveals … to keep revealing more and more.
Brother Anthony of the Cross