To me, the very least of all the holy ones, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the inscrutable riches of Christ, and to bring to light for all what is the plan of the mystery hidden from ages past in God who created all things....
One of the treasures I still carry from my theological training, during that halcyon decade after the Second Vatican Council, is the word mystery. Our professors patiently explained to us that mystery in our scriptures and liturgy does not refer to puzzles to be solved, enigmatic problems or a genre of crime novels. Mystery is about the encounter with God. Or perhaps we should say with Jewish reverence, "the encounter with G_d."
Since that time, I have come to appreciate an even wider dimension of the word; it involves the encounter with another human being.
For the truth is, no one really knows what goes on in the heart and mind of any other human being. We are mysterious to one another. If we live in close proximity to one another we learn to anticipate one another in showing respect, but our knowledge is never infallible. Not even close. Occasionally the dedicated lover might say, "Who are you and what have you done with my spouse?" Those who are comfortable with this dimension of human life will find delight in the encounter with other people.
Philosopher John Macmurray has rightfully pointed out that all communication between human persons is religious, in the sense that they use symbols -- words, sentences, pictures, gestures, rituals, email, etc. with their arbitrarily assigned meanings -- to speak to one another. The Genesis story of Babel reminds us that communication is never easy and is often impossible. It's essentially a divine gift, a grace that may be revoked. That two persons understand one another at all might be called a religious experience!
Now if the mystery of the ordinary human person defies all predictability and every definition, the divine mystery of G_d is even more wonderful. When we celebrate the Sacred Heart of Jesus we remember that this divine man -- as a personal presence -- has escaped every limitation of the human body. He was born in a backwater of the Roman Empire yet he lives in every country on Earth; he lived his entire life within a span of 30-40 years, yet he remains forever present and close to us. You find no trace of nostalgia in the New Testament for the good old days when the Lord was with us. He is always with us.
Jesus is just as near to you and me as he was to his disciples. In him the prophecy of Deuteronomy 4:7 is fulfilled:
For what great nation is there that has gods so close to it as the LORD, our God, is to us whenever we call upon him?We find comfort in the everlasting presence of Jesus, at home, at work, in church or a hospital bed:
As a mother comforts her child, so I will comfort you; in Jerusalem you shall find your comfort.The Solemnity of the Sacred Heart, falling always on the Friday after Corpus Christi, is the last hurrah of our Easter Season. We move forward now into the Ordinary Time of year with the assurance of Jesus' parting words,
And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age.”