The Mystery of God

The readings at Mass the past few weeks have been some of my favorite of the year, especially the selections from the Old Testament. We've heard (on 8/31) from Jeremiah 20:7: "O Lord, thou hast deceived me, and I was deceived . . ." and (yesterday) from Isaiah 55:8-9: "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, says the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts."

The Gospel reading yesterday (Sunday) was a perfect complement to the passage from Isaiah: the laborers in the vineyard who've been working all day cannot fathom why they are paid just the same as those who came late. It doesn't make sense. On the world's standards, they're supposed to get more.

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These readings, to state the obvious, tell us that God is God and we are not. They remind us that the mind of God infinitely surpasses our own. God operates on His own time. Our conventional measurements are not sufficient.  

Lots of insights flow from these truths, but for me, right now, the readings help me remember that I can never treat God like a spiritual valet. As I try to follow the Ignatian command to "find God in all things" I cannot try to force Him to earth, demanding that He respond in ways that deny his utter transcendence. I must constantly let God draw me out of my temporal paradigm, to heaven, where I can behold the mystery. If I feel deceived, that might be a good thing. It might be the sign not that God has misled me, but rather, I have misled myself. I have dared, perhaps, to think that I have figured God out.  

I believe the Jesuit Karl Rahner once wrote that we must abandon ourselves to the incomprehensibility of God. Perhaps that is what it comes down to. 

 

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J Cosgrove
3 years 8 months ago
We can not possibly know God. He is infinite and we are finite. That does not mean that we cannot know some aspects of God from reason or revelation. Ot that we should not try. If you can get a hold of it somehow, there is a fantastic lecture on the Book of Job by Michael Sugrue when he was making courses for the Teaching Company. He is my favorite lecturer of all time with them. In this lecture he essentially says don't ask what motivates God, there is no answer we can understand. As an aside, three years ago when this gospel was being read we were in Nashville for a conference. The priest said that those of the last hour were all of us and that no one really qualified for the earliest hour, even the most saintly of us. If it wasn't for God's mercy none of us would receive His reward. One interpretation of the gospel.
Bruce Snowden
3 years 8 months ago
Mr. Cosgrove, "We cannot possibly know God." I agree one hundred percent! Connectedly it seems to me we also cannot possibly fully know any human being, made in the image and likeness of God. There's unfathomable mystery in all of us! How about the material cosmos? Is it possible to ever know all there is to know? It seems to me the deeper science digs the less is understood because deeper digging uncovers layers of up to then unknown mechanisms cranking away contentedly. Theoretically I guess physical science may eventually arrive at the "beginning" after which there is nothing more to uncover, because only the "stuff" of nothingness God used to create light which big-banged into existence whatever was ever to wriggle free of the constraints of nothingness will be there - wherever "there" is! About the impossibility to know God, a long time ago in class a teacher said one of the unimaginable joys of heaven will be rooted in coming to better know God, a discovery that will never end since God is eternal, infinite and his attributes are without beginning, without end, just as God is. Excitedly boggling!

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