Reflection & Dialogue: Living with God’s mystery.
David’s era, about 1000 BC, with the promise made to David through Nathan, is far removed from our own day. Furthermore, all matters relating to David and his reign were limited to the people of Israel, and even God’s election of the people of Israel to reveal himself is a cause of scandal for some. Some would refer to it in a theological phrase as the scandal of particularity, the stumbling block for some that God, the creator of the universe, would enter history in a very specialized way. It is expressed in the epigram, once attributed to Hilaire Belloc but probably incorrectly: “How odd of God to choose the Jews”. But with regard to the divine promise that the Davidic dynasty would last for ever, as already noted, this ended after four hundred years or so, with the destruction of the state of Judah in 587 or 586. From then on the divine promise to David became a matter of faith. Between then and the coming of Christ God’s plan of salvation for the world was a mystery hidden in God until revealed by Christ and the Church. It was gradually made known by Christ and in the Church under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, and in a sense the mystery is still being revealed in the newer historical circumstances.
The unity of the human race through the death of Christ, and Christ active among us, are two aspects of this mystery stressed in the new Testament. But more aspects than those are there and are seen when the mystery is reflected on in the light of God’s plan of salvation for the whole human race.
This divine plan is not just some abstraction, having to do merely with a knowledge of events and plans. It is the power of God working in various ways. It works in a special way in the Eucharist and through the sacrament of the Eucharist. In the liturgy as found in the Roman Missal there is rather frequent mention of “this mystery or “these mysteries”. It seems to have once been thought that these terms are too old-fashioned and were not very much used in some recent translations of the Missal, being replaced by such terms as “Mass” “Eucharist”. In they more recent revision they have been rendered literally.
Another point that the term “mystery” in relation to Christian faith brings to mind is the joy believers should experience because the mystery has been revealed to them, a mystery hidden from countless ages, a mystery revealing God’s love for the world and the human race, and the direction in life that its teaching gives. We had an opportunity to reflect on these truths at last Sunday’s Mass, Gaudete Sunday, a Sunday calling for rejoicing, but it worth our while to return to the point again, to renew our love for the Church, and the joy of being called to membership of it.