Can a mother forget her infant, be without tenderness for the child of her womb? Even should she forget, I will never forget you. — Isaiah 49:15
Thus should one regard us: as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God. — 1 Cor. 4:1
This weekend is the Eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time. The readings can be found here. The themes are worry and the everlasting mystery of God’s love. Lent begins next Wednesday so the themes are very timely. This week’s reflection (complete with Teilhard de Chardin reference 🙂 comes from Rev. Thomas F. Brosnan of Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Bayside, New York. You can find the full reflection here, but set forth below is an extended summary:
Mystery is not something we can know nothing about; it’s just something we cannot know everything about. So said the Catholic apologist, Frank Sheed, of publishing fame. Yet even those parts of mystery we do encounter remain elusive and for the most part substantially incommunicable. Teilhard de Chardin, a mysterious figure himself, would write that “the incommunicable part of us is the pasture of God.” And St. Paul tells us in today’s second reading that we are “stewards of the mysteries of God.” We might take it all a little further and picture that divine pasture where mysteries abound as a part of us. We carry it around with us like an imprint. It fuses with our unique identity. It becomes inseparable from who we are.
Religion can help or hinder us in our exploration upon that pasture of God. If religion becomes too routine, a balance sheet recording the fulfillment of ritual obligations, it can divert us from the challenge of facing that interior mystery which is confounding and even painful. Religion, as C.G. Jung ironically pointed out, can become the very thing that protects us from the experience of God. But if religion is allowed to capture our imagination it may indeed be the vehicle we can use to explore that vast divine pastureland where “the incommunicable” always seems to seek to express itself.
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[T]rue religion, like mystery, makes us uncomfortable. That discomfort, often experienced as fear, is a marker for the presence of the mystery, like a storm brewing on the horizon of that interior pasture. When all that religion can provide is a feeling of comfort, then we can be sure it is ultimately not worth pursuing. Marx was on to something, after all, when he called religion “the opium of the people,” offering the promise of a painless eternity as long as we follow the rules here and now and don’t question the status quo. True religion, the vehicle by which we are invited to explore the mystery of being human, is anything but comfortable – at least on first encounter.