Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time – Cycle C
When was the last time you read Charles Dickens? My brother begged me to get reacquainted with him, and I’ve spent the last several months in reverent silence, listening to his stunning and shattering stories on audio tapes.
Hard Times is my latest find. It was published in 1854, and reflects the soulless existence of the factory workers outside of London as the Industrial Revolution steals the health of the adults and the lives of the children. Still in the throes of the 17th century Enlightenment, the owners of the factories and the intellectual elite of the town preach a strict adherence to FACT and REASON. “The Good
Samaritan was a poor economist,” they say. “Jesus should have calculated the mathematical probability of being crucified,” they nod wryly.
In other words, there is no mystery in life, nothing sacred to our existence, no ocean teeming with fish waiting for us to lower our nets on the other side. Jesus would have flunked The Enlightenment.
Isaiah, writing 700 years before Christ, tells of entering the Temple and seeing the Lord on a throne, and angels placing hot coals on Isaiah’s lips that he may be worthy to speak of such things. He would have flunked The Enlightenment too.
As Paul relates in today’s second reading from I Corinthians 15, (the earliest account ever written on the resurrection, preceding even Mark’s gospel), Jesus appeared to many hundreds of people after the resurrection. Those eyewitnesses went out to the ends of the earth, filled with the Holy Spirit, preaching the Risen Lord. They would all have flunked The Enlightenment.
Oh Lord, I want to be in that number.
In what ways do you see mystery at work in the world?
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I have come to light a fire on the earth; how I wish it were already burning (Lk.12:49).
Thanks for this great reminder that sometimes a group of flunkies could be the shapers of culture and civilization.
It never fails to surprise me when I find out you and I are traveling on parallel paths, Kathy! That in itself is a clear expression of mystery at work, as far as I’m concerned. 🙂 I just re-read Hard Times, which is one of my all-time favorite Dickens novels, and perhaps among my top ten of ANY genre. The counterpoint to that unswerving adherence to FACT and REASON comes when the former champion of Reason says, “I have a misgiving that some change may have been slowly working about me in this house, by mere love and gratitude; that what the Head had left undone and could not do, the Heart may have been doing silently. Can it be so?”
We have to look carefully to see where the Spirit is at work, hopefully in our own actions that make tiny but real differences to those we encounter in this rapidly changing world. That is where I find the mystery at work.
Being a parent presents to me the great mystery of life. I have two children, they are as opposite as opposite can be. In spite of my perception that I raised them “just the same”, they turned out completely different. They are young adults, and they journey to their adulthood has been both a trial and pleasure for me. The mystery is that in spite of all that variation in each path they chose, they have striking similarities. I am grateful I was given the gift of faith, so the Holy Spirit can help me on my own path, and accept the mystery that we travel with every day of our lives!