Rev. Dr. Steven Yagerman
The mystery we seek bespeaks a love which sees the infinite value of all people
Everybody loves a mystery, ok, almost everybody! The basic idea is that there is a truth which is hidden and that the discerning eye is able to decipher some telltale clue that sees a sign of that hidden truth in the midst of the mundane. Effectively, the idea of mystery says, there is a reality that exists on more than one level and is able to be discovered.
We refer to scripture as revelatory, they reveal a reality that would not have otherwise been seen. We are a people who believe that there is a reality that is operative beneath the common, accepted narrative of our culture.
In this week’s gospel, Jesus says that he ‘thanks God that certain things have been concealed from the wise and intelligent and have instead been revealed to babes.’ (Mt:11:25) It takes a childlike innocence to see these mysteries at work. The 20th century French philosopher, Paul Ricoeur wrote, we need to achieve a second naivete to approach this kind of understanding.
People of faith are people who believe that there is an order, a coherence and a purpose operating in and beneath that which is visible. Spirituality is the intention and effort required to participate in that deeper purpose. Yes, it seems that the rich get rich and the poor get poorer. Yes, it seems that greed is good and that justice has gone missing. But the followers of Jesus participate in a deeper reality that appears to be foolishness to the world. Disciples are willing to lose this world in order to find the eternal power of the soul.
Earlier in the text Jesus speaks about the impossibility of pleasing others. Basically, he is saying that it is impossible to gain an identity from pleasing the demands of this world. Being completely accommodating and compliant only guarantees that you will always be at the whim of someone else’ shifting desires.
When we come to church, we participate in and reinforce an activity that is inherently subversive to consensual reality. We are proclaiming that there is a reality apart from the narrative of success this world espouses. Also, there is an identity available to us that is not based on pleasing others. There is instead, we proclaim, a reality that is derived from that still small voice of the Creator God stirring in our souls. It is a presence that leads us into a sense of connection and coherence with the primordial powers of the universe. The mystery we seek bespeaks a love which sees the infinite value of all people and serves others as a kneejerk response to this hidden vision of the divine presence.
Our task is to seek the depths of this mystery and to make it as manifest as possible by our common life, our commitment to love and service and our power to heal and forgive sins of others as we experience our own constant renewal by encountering this mystery.