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).