The Living Mystery Among Us — Christ Jesus

Life as a disciple of Christ Jesus is, to put it bluntly, an experience of being incorporated into the Living Mystery and being filled with The Living Mystery – Christ Jesus. Mutual indwelling is another way to put it – “abide in me and I in you.” The scriptural narrative is the account of the working out of this salvation.

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“No one bound by worldly desires and pleasures is worthy to approach, draw near or minister to You, the King of glory. To serve You is great and awesome even for the heavenly powers. But because of Your ineffable and immeasurable love for us, You became man without alteration or change… It is proper and right to sing to You, bless You, praise You, thank You and worship You in all places of Your dominion; for You are God ineffable, beyond comprehension, invisible, beyond understanding, existing forever and always the same; You and Your only begotten Son and Your Holy Spirit. You brought us into being out of nothing, and when we fell, You raised us up again. You did not cease doing everything until You led us to heaven and granted us Your kingdom to come.” The Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom

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Judges 13.1-25 (Jerusalem Bible 1966)

Again the Israelites began to do what displeases the Lord, and the Lord delivered them into the hands of the Philistines for forty years. There was a man of Zorah of the tribe of Dan, called Manoah. His wife was barren, she had borne no children. The angel of the Lord appeared to this woman and said to her, ‘You are barren and have had no child. But from now on take great care. Take no wine or strong drink, and eat nothing unclean. For you will conceive and bear a son. No razor is to touch his head, for the boy shall be God’s nazirite from his mother’s womb. It is he who will begin to rescue Israel from the power of the Philistines.’ Then the woman went and told her husband, ‘A man of God has just come to me; his presence was like the presence of the angel of God, he was so majestic. I did not ask him where he came from, and he did not reveal his name to me. But he said to me, “You will conceive and bear a son. From now on, take no wine or strong drink, and eat nothing unclean. For the boy shall be God’s nazirite from his mother’s womb to his dying day.”’

Then Manoah pleaded with the Lord and said, ‘I beg you, Lord, let the man of God that you sent come to us once again and instruct us in what we must do with the boy when he is born.’ The Lord heard Manoah’s prayer for favour, and the angel of the Lord visited the woman again as she was sitting in the field; her husband Manoah was not with her. The woman ran quickly and told her husband: ‘Look,’ she said, ‘the man who came to me the other day has appeared to me again.’ Manoah rose and followed his wife, and he came to the man and said to him, ‘Are you the man who spoke to this woman?’ He answered, ‘I am.’ Manoah went on, ‘When your words are fulfilled, what is to be the boy’s rule of life? How must he behave?’ And the angel of the Lord answered Manoah, ‘The things that I forbade this woman, let him refrain from too. Let him taste nothing that comes from the vine, let him take no wine or strong drink, let him eat nothing unclean, let him obey all the orders I gave this woman.’ Manoah then said to the angel of the Lord, ‘Do us the honour of staying with us while we prepare a kid for you.’ For Manoah did not know this was the angel of the Lord. The angel of the Lord said to Manoah, ‘Even if I did stay with you, I would not eat your food; but if you wish to prepare a holocaust, offer it to the Lord.’ Manoah then said to the angel of the Lord, ‘What is your name, so that we may honour you when your words are fulfilled?’ The angel of the Lord replied, ‘Why ask my name? It is a mystery.’’ Then Manoah took the kid and the oblation and offered it as a holocaust on the rock to the Lord who works mysteries.’ As the flame went up heavenwards from the altar, the angel of the Lord ascended in the flame in the sight of Manoah and his wife, and they fell face downwards on the ground. After this, the angel of the Lord did not appear any more to Manoah and his wife, by which Manoah understood that this had been the angel of the Lord. And Manoah said to his wife, ‘We are certain to die, because we have seen God.’ His wife answered him, ‘If the Lord had meant to kill us, he would not have accepted a holocaust and oblation from our hands; he would not have told us all these things.’ The woman gave birth to a son and called him Samson. The child grew, and the Lord blessed him; and the spirit of the Lord began to move him in the Camp of Dan, between Zorah and Eshtaol.

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Luke 1.26-38b (Jerusalem Bible 1966)

In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph, of the House of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary. He went in and said to her, ‘Rejoice, so highly favoured! The Lord is with you.’ She was deeply disturbed by these words and asked herself what this greeting could mean, but the angel said to her, ‘Mary, do not be afraid; you have won God’s favour. Listen! You are to conceive and bear a son, and you must name him Jesus. He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his ancestor David; he will rule over the House of Jacob for ever and his reign will have no end.’ Mary said to the angel, ‘But how can this come about, since I am a virgin?’‘The Holy Spirit will come upon you’ the angel answered ‘and the power of the Most High will cover you with its shadow. And so the child will be holy and will be called Son of God. Know this too: your kinswoman Elizabeth has, in her old age, herself conceived a son, and she whom people called barren is now in her sixth month, for nothing is impossible to God.’ I am the handmaid of the Lord,’ said Mary ‘let what you have said be done to me.’ And the angel left her.

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2 Corinthians 12.1-6

But I will move on to the visions and revelations I have had from the Lord. I know a man in Christ who, fourteen years ago, was caught up – whether still in the body or out of the body, I do not know; God knows – right into the third heaven. I do know, however, that this same person – whether in the body or out of the body, I do not know; God knows – was caught up into paradise and heard things which must not and cannot be put into human language. I will boast about a man like that, but not about anything of my own except my weaknesses. If I should decide to boast, I should not be made to look foolish, because I should only be speaking the truth;

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A letter from St Aloysius Gonzaga to his mother  — “God’s mercies shall be my song forever”

May the comfort and grace of the Holy Spirit be yours for ever, most honoured lady. Your letter found me lingering still in this region of the dead, but now I must rouse myself to make my way on to heaven at last and to praise God for ever in the land of the living; indeed I had hoped that before this time my journey there would have been over. If charity, as Saint Paul says, means to weep with those who weep and rejoice with those who are glad, then, dearest mother, you shall rejoice exceedingly that God in his grace and his love for you is showing me the path to true happiness, and assuring me that I shall never lose him.

  The divine goodness, most honoured lady, is a fathomless and shoreless ocean, and I confess that when I plunge my mind into thought of this it is carried away by the immensity and feels quite lost and bewildered there. In return for my short and feeble labours, God is calling me to eternal rest; his voice from heaven invites me to the infinite bliss I have sought so languidly, and promises me this reward for the tears I have so seldom shed.

  Take care above all things, most honoured lady, not to insult God’s boundless loving kindness; you would certainly do this if you mourned as dead one living face to face with God, one whose prayers can bring you in your troubles more powerful aid than they ever could on earth. And our parting will not be for long; we shall see each other again in heaven; we shall be united with our Saviour; there we shall praise him with heart and soul, sing of his mercies for ever, and enjoy eternal happiness. When he takes away what he once lent us, his purpose is to store our treasure elsewhere more safely and bestow on us those very blessings that we ourselves would most choose to have.

I write all this with the one desire that you and all my family may consider my departure a joy and favour and that you especially may speed with a mother’s blessing my passage across the waters till I reach the shore to which all hopes belong. I write the more willingly because I have no clearer way of expressing the love and respect I owe you as your son. “Universalis” (Italics mine)

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It is, indeed, “… a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God” who is continually inviting us to Live The Mystery.

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