Paul the Mystic Tackles a Practical Question
Each week a pop-up on my computer suggests five top picks among weekend events taking place in the city. This week a video sampling of one of the music groups shows people searching and discovering beautifully decorated musical instruments hidden in a lush, jungle landscape, where they are making lovely music. The Museum of Fashion offers an exhibit of styles from Paris. There is a commemoration of 9/11 with a ritual for peace and healing.
There is a lot to nourish the spirit in the city. Searching and the joy of finding; peace and healing; presenting ourselves to others and the significance of our bodily presence.
Grammar school just opened and I joined a class walking to the public chapel of the monastery where there was exposition of the Blessed Sacrament. The classes will visit for a short time to pray in silence, sitting in the quiet. The focus of everyone was on the host held in the monstrance. In the line of vision behind the host is the large wooden crucifix which hangs on the wall.
The day will end in the parish with an evening Mass. Those who come will brave the sideswipe of hurricane Dorian with some rain and a messy drive. The Friday evening Mass gathers those offering prayer for the needs of the sick, as well as peace for loved ones who have died and comfort for those who mourn their passing. Those who come are not easily deterred by the weather because of the importance of their mission.
Paul’s letter to the Colossians went to people Paul had never met, but people like each of us, products of ‘Deep Time’. This is the name of the exhibit at the Smithsonian in Washington about our body through time, and the vast tree of created beings, the result of 3.7 billion years of evolution. The exhibit does not talk about our spiritual being. Yet even being made from dust, the psalmist proclaims in Psalm 8, “O Lord, our Lord, how glorious is your name over all the earth! When I behold your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars which you set in place – what is man that you should be mindful of him?”
The Colossians have welcomed the Good News preached to them. They also have a question. How did Jesus fit into their lives, how does Jesus fit into this world through which they walk each day. Paul the mystic says tells them, “Christ is the image of the invisible God, the first-born of all creatures. In him everything was created; all were created through him and for him. It pleased God to make absolute fullness reside in him…to reconcile everything in his person, everything, I say, on earth and in the heavens, making peace through the blood of his cross.”
We have our questions, we search, we peer at the horizon. Christ in us is our hope of glory. We share this wonderful mystery it is not lessened even in suffering. How marvelous our moment in Deep Time, using talents or performing, contemplating or offering our prayers, even suffering, we are bringing Christ to completion in one another.
Fr. William Murphy, CP is the pastor of Immaculate Conception parish in Jamaica, New York.