In Bible studies and classes I have often advised that mysteries of our Faith and sometimes best stated and leave it at the that. Scripture has revealed it, so believe it and try to avoid our natural urge to explain it all in logical details – or even offer analogies. The most likely outcome of your attempt will be one the heresies that the Church has already condemned in the first five centuries.  The very nature of mysteries is that they are mysterious and beyond explanation. Want an good example? Explain the mystery of the Trinity – or rather take a moment and watch this video. Enjoy.

Kingdom and Mystery

Kingdom_of_GodThe year was 1957. The “space-age” began when the Russians launched the Sputnik satellite into earth orbit. The same year General Motors produced the classic “57 Chevy” – more properly known as the Bel-Aire. It could be yours for $2,400. The price of a new home averages between $12,000 and $20,000.  You could rent a home for around $100/month. A week’s worth of groceries was under $20. Gasoline was about $0.24/gallon. A pack of cigarettes cost… well, that doesn’t matter, you shouldn’t be buying cigarettes anway. A top-named TV star was Roy Rogers (the cowboy, not the restaurant). Gunsmoke and Perry Mason were top-rated TV shows. Rock Hudson, John Wayne, Kim Novak, Marilyn Monroe, James Stewart – to name a few –  were the top stars in Hollywood. And here was the menu at McDonald’s: hamburgers: $0.15 ($0.19 for a cheeseburger) with french fries and drinks, $0.10 each. The year was 1957 and St. Francis of Assisi parish was founded in Triangle, VA.

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When the kingdom becomes clear

Last Sunday’s gospel was St. Mark’s version of the sower who scatters seed, a metaphor for the manner in which the Kingdom of God comes to be in this world. This was followed up by the story of the mustard seed. Both are meant to hold up the idea of the Kingdom of God and get us to think about what we hope for. In the first story, a sower scatters seed on the ground, and then goes off to sleep. The seeds fend for themselves and when the grain is ripe, the gardener harvests it. In the second story, someone sows a tiny mustard seed in the ground, and it grows into a gigantic bush, large enough to offer birds shelter in its branches. As is the case with all of Jesus’s parables, these are intended not to keep us comfortable and complacent, but to prod and provoke us into wholly different ways of perceiving and relating to what is sacred. Continue reading

Dr. Sheldon Cooper, Mystery of a Kiss, and the Eucharist

Sheldon CopperIn seminary, one of my theology professors (not Dr. Sheldon Cooper – although that would have been interesting….) offered that the Johannine “And the Word became flesh” becomes the starting point of most Christological heresy if one attempts to explain “how.”  Eventually the limitations of language and human fumbling will eventually lead to the heterodox expression of faith. Continue reading