2 Corinthians 12:7-10
I remember as a little boy being fascinated with magicians. There was always something about a great magic show which left me feeling mystified. It was a feeling of amazement and wonder, mixed with confusion and incompleteness. For I saw with my own eyes as the woman was cut in pieces and then reassembled. How could this be? And my eyes couldn’t deceive me could they? Years later, after the television serial told us all the secrets behind each of the tricks, the simple trickery robbed me of my amazement and wonder. Did I become more cynical?
This is the letdown which occurs in the gospel today. For if we know all the secrets then how can we embrace the mystery? If we know Jesus as a little boy then how could we ever accept him as a prophet? What would happen if your child or grandchild, or even a niece or nephew started acting like a prophet or prophetess? It is likely you would find them an embarrassment to your family. Isn’t it likely that it would diminish their message? "Where did he get all this"? They asked. Why is it so frequently the more we know about Jesus the more we rationalize our faith and suddenly we lose out on the mystery and the ability of our faith to stir us into a mighty flame?
Ezekiel and Paul in the first and second readings write about finding themselves empowered to be sent out, to bear witness, and to proclaim. Their flames have been stirred up and they are alive and on fire. This prophetic task is something which is within them that is fueled by their experience and justified by the paradoxical power of Christ. This is why Paul boasts. For the both of them it is not a mystery to be explained but a mystery which is to be lived and shared. And somehow in the sharing of this mystery the spirit of Christ is even more powerful and more prominent. Then the ultimate paradox becomes truth: I receive only because of my ability to give. I can forgive because I’ve been forgiven. And I am alive because of the deaths from which I have been resurrected.
Where do you find yourself minimizing the mystery of Christ? Are your own fears smothering the flames of Christ’s love?
Fr. David Colhour, C.P. is on the staff at Christ the King Passionist Retreat Center, Citrus Heights, California.