The God-Man of Mystery
Ours is a mind boggling faith. God is one, yet He is three Persons who are each also God. He is invisible, yet the Second Person possesses a visible, human body. When this Second Person united a human nature to His divine nature, He became both fully human and fully divine. This God-man, Jesus, offers us Himself in the Eucharist, which, while having all the properties of bread, is still entirely Him.
What do we do in the face of such mysteries?
TOO MUCH OR NOT ENOUGH?
In my 15 years in ministry, I’ve talked to a lot of people about these great wonders. “Three in one? God and man? The bread is Jesus?” This is definitely a lot to digest. These teachings are complex, confusing and even frustrating. My sense is that, in our intellectual paralysis, we tend to either unthinkingly believe the mysteries anyway or push them into the back of our minds and try to avoid them.
Neither solution is satisfactory. Our faith is more secure when we have good reasons for it, and how can we have a personal relationship with someone we avoid thinking about?
A great deal could be said to make these mysteries more intelligible; however, even a few explanatory remarks on each are beyond the scope and space I have here. Instead, let’s talk about mindset.
THE MYSTERY MINDSET
I think that the victory over intellectual confusion and paralysis begins by approaching our faith with the proper perspective.
First, let’s look at mystery. Even with Sherlock’s powers of deduction and observation, it’s not as if we could crack the code and solve the mysteries. In a theological context, a “mystery” is not a riddle to be solved, but is a truth revealed by God that is beyond full human comprehension.
“A truth revealed by God” means that God wanted us to know it so badly, He taught it to us Himself. In our consternation, we forget that our God is a revealer God. He does not desire to confound or obscure, He desires to reveal. He longs to be known by us. That should give us hope when we approach the mysteries of our faith.
“Beyond full human comprehension”: My emphasis here is on the word “full.” We might not be able to entirely understand these mysteries, but we can know some things about them! Why would God reveal them if there was nothing to be known in them? God made our minds for knowing Him, and so there’s hope here, too, that when we approach Him, we will come to know Him better.
FROM OBSTACLE TO INVITATION
What if, then, instead of thinking about theological mysteries as obstacles to knowing God, we see them as invitations?
The fact that these mysteries cannot be fully comprehended means that we can come to them and receive from them forever. Our God cannot be depleted or exhausted by us, like the things of this world. Instead, He is a bottomless well of refreshing water that we can draw from for all eternity. He is a banquet table with the finest food that stretches on without end.
Every mystery of our faith contains an invitation to come, sit, eat, drink and have your fill forever. Far from avoiding the well and the table, we should be running to meet these limitless sources of truth and nourishment. In Him we are not defeated, we are satisfied!
Therefore, let’s always be thinking, studying and asking questions about our awesome God. You might even pray right now: “God, reveal something new to me about yourself.” I assure you He will either teach you something new, or He will give you peace about what you don’t understand. Either way you win, and in this way, we can fully embrace the mysteries that make us fully Catholic and make God fully God.
Nicholas Hardesty Ready to discuss creating a Discipleship Pathway at your parish? Contact Nicholas Hardesty at [email protected].
This article appeared in the November 2023 edition of The Catholic Telegraph Magazine. For your complimentary subscription, click here.