Sunday Reflection, Eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time (March 2, 2014): Mystery and Religion

worry
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.

* * *

[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.

Read Full Homily Here

Other Resources:

Creighton Online Ministries
Jessie Rogers Reflections

About William Ockham

I am a father of two with eclectic interests in theology, philosophy and sports. I chose the pseudonym William Ockham in honor of his contributions to philosophy, specifically Occam's Razor, and its contributions to modern scientific theory. My blog (www.teilhard.com) explores Ignatian Spirituality and the intersection of faith, science and reason through the life and writings of Pierre Teilhard de Chardin (pictured above).
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9 Responses to Sunday Reflection, Eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time (March 2, 2014): Mystery and Religion

  1. mkenny114 says:

    ‘[T]rue religion, like mystery, makes us uncomfortable.’ – this reminds me of something the late English dramatist Dennis Potter said: ‘For me, religion is the wound, not the bandage’

    I am not a huge fan of his work (what I’ve seen anyway), but on this point am in full agreement – whether in encountering mystery or suffering (which is itself a profound mystery), true religion must enter into this things, and take us with it, not paper them over.

    • Michael, thank you so much for the Dennis Potter quote. That provides a lot to contemplate. When I look back over my life, it is true that most of my personal and spiritual growth resulted from some type of suffering or setback. That truly is a mystery.

      Peace,
      W. Ockham

      • mkenny114 says:

        I am glad that the Dennis Potter quote struck a chord with you – it certainly does with me. As you say, the fact that many of the most important transitions in life seem to come out of suffering (of whatever kind or degree) is indeed a mystery. Another reason to be thankful for Christ and His Church for providing the many resources to enter deeper into the many mysteries of our existence.

        Thank you for an excellent (and thought provoking) post btw!

  2. Lynda says:

    Yes, we can be so engaged with the form of religion that we miss the substance which is a relationship with Jesus the Christ, the Creator of the universe. I like the quote from Teilhard (hardly a surprise that I would appreciate what Teilhard wrote 🙂 ) “the incommunicable part of us is the pasture of God.” What a beautiful thought! Blessings.

    • Lynda:

      I just came back from a trip to England and Ireland. I came from record low temperatures in the Northern U.S. and a white landscape with no vegetation to traveling around Southern Ireland with its beautiful wide-open, lush green fields so the pasture image is very fresh in my mind. Hope you are having a great weekend.

      Peace,
      W. Ockham

  3. claire46 says:

    This quote from Isaiah was very important for me when I came across it (after Cursillo). It is important because my mother felt no tenderness for babies and basically rejected each one of her three children… So finding out that Godde would never forget me was truly very important.

    • Claire:

      Thank you for sharing your experiences. I have felt abandoned by loved ones in my own life (although not to the extent it sounds like you have) and for me it a very traumatic experience. It brought out the worst side of me but it also helped start me on the path to healing. I have not heard of Cursillo but it looks like a fantastic organization. Thank you for sharing.

      Peace,
      W. Ockham

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