How Can This Be

Deut 4: 32-34; 39-40; Romans 8: 14-17; Matthew 28: 16-20

For the better part of twenty years now, I have spent a great deal of my time studying about God, the theology. The one, and maybe only thing, that I am sure of is that the more I think I know and do learn the more that remains unknown. Yet, it becomes this constant chase to soak it all up, as much as I can, into something that I know I can never fully know, especially in the form of knowledge. It’s like being in this space somewhere between the known and unknown, all at the same time. We often joke on this feast that the best thing we can say is that it’s a mystery; and that’s true, but also more than that, it is Mystery, and all we can do is fall into Mystery over and over again.

Now from the time we are little kids, we are fed knowledge about this God we call Mystery. I dare say, at times it feels like we never quite move from there. Yet, our adult life should be more about letting that idea and even that knowledge of God go in order that we may experience a deeper knowledge of God, something that lies within, this Mystery. Quite honestly, that name God carries with it so much baggage, our baggage, that Mystery frees us up to something bigger and yet so close, we can taste it. It takes a great deal of faith to move to this place in our lives and if you need a simple definition of faith it is simply, and yet quite difficult, to be able to sit with the tension between the known and unknown and allowing ourselves to fall into the unknown mystery we call God.

It’s where people Israel find themselves as the writer of Deuteronomy expresses to them today in such poetic fashion. They know the God that has been present in their lives. The writer mentions how God was there in the fashioning of the world. God was present in creation and the creation of man. God was present in the toughest of times, lost in the wilderness of Egypt. That God was ever-present and will always be, but at the same time, God tries to reveal Godself now in a different way, a deeper way to people Israel, and they are being invited as we are on this feast, to fall into Mystery. Think of it this way. I can never fully know myself. You can never fully know yourself and you can’t fully ever know your spouse or others, we are always being invited into deeper mystery, into the unknown of our own lives and the lives of others, satisfied with not always knowing.

The disciples are in the same boat at the conclusion of Matthew’s Gospel. They have known Jesus and have experienced them, and yet, in a flash, he’s once again being revealed in a new way and in deeper understanding in their lives. It’s the way they continue to grow and grow into the community that we heard and read about all during the Easter Season. They know what they know but they’re always being invited into what they don’t know, into a love affair with Mystery. I think of the words of Mary as the Spirit descends upon her, “How can this be…?” That’s an openness to the beyond of what we know in God, in Mystery, the falling into the unknown and this Mystery we call God. Over and over again, we must let go of what we know, crucified in some sense, growing deeper into the adoption that Paul speaks of to the Romans today. There is something deeper that unites us beyond our ability to reason and know, and that’s this Mystery that is transcendent and yet so close that it’s beyond words or understanding. Can we sit in that tension long enough in our own lives to fall into Mystery and to have the dumbfounded mind of Mary, “How can this be…”?

It’s unfortunate that this culture and world we live in tells us we have the right to know things and we have the right to all the facts but we can’t carry that over to faith. That’s not God and that’s not the mystery we participate in either! As much as God is endless mystery so are we and this God continues to reveal in new ways in our lives and beyond. As we celebrate this feast of One God, Three Persons, we can’t even begin to comprehend what that means. All the knowledge in the world on this One God will never suffice the deeper yearning of the heart to enter into deeper mystery and a deeper and felt knowledge that is constantly inviting us beyond what we know. The invitation, as we sit in that tension we call faith, to fall freely into the unknown, this Mystery we call God.

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