Saturday, March 18, 2006

An Interesting Mystery

If you are one of the bold ones who have read my lengthy essay on the Luminous Mysteries, you will recall that I made a kind of loose and poetic analogy between the 20 mysteries and the 20 amino acids which are coded by the genetic code of DNA. I'm not going to repeat that analogy here, but I need to mention it so you will have some background on the rest of this posting.

Last month when we did the novena for Pope Benedict, I concentrated on the Luminous Mysteries - and I thought how interesting it was that we could now meditate upon that wonderful scene "in the neighborhood of Caesarea Philippi" as we said the third Luminous mystery. [See S. L. Jaki's And On This Rock for some amazing details about this location, and its significance to the "Petrine Commission".] On another night, I spent the whole decade thinking over the scene which started "Lord teach us to pray... When you pray, say 'Our Father...'" Which is kind of interesting (especially for a computer scientist who has worked on compilers!) to pray one prayer while pondering another. Of course it's not that unusual - for we've all had that happen every time we start the Joyful Mysteries with the Annunciation - we're busy saying the Our Father while we hear Gabriel say "Hail Mary..." - or when we say the second Glorious mystery with its "in the Name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit..."

It's kind of like that piece for two violins by Mozart (I think it is called "Table Music") - clever, and very interesting - yes - but the intellectual counterpoint of two prayers at once was not what I am getting at.

Tonight, I noted something curious about the third Luminous mystery, which may be denoted by the title "The Proclamation of the Kingdom". Sometimes I review the various "occupations" our Lord performed during His public ministry, sometimes I choose one or more particular scenes, as I mentioned earlier. But tonight I let the mental "focus" widen to span the entire public ministry, from just after the Wedding at Cana (in Luminous Mystery 2) up to the Transfiguration (in Luminous Mystery 4) - and when I did so, I was struck by the fact that all the "mystery" is a continual "theophany" - sometimes very low-key - but nevertheless distinct.

Remember a theophany is a "revealing" of God: the visit of the Kings, the Baptism in the Jordan, the Miracle at Cana - all these are theophanies, and recalled as such by the Church. Clearly, the Transfiguration is also one; the msytery of the Eucharist requires a deeper study which I may try to consider another time.

But the idea that this ONE mystery - the third Luminous - could touch on so many aspects of the life of Jesus - the multiplication of the loaves and fishes, the walking on water (and Peter's too!) the parables, the lessons, the argumentation with the Pharisees and the Saducees, the healings, the journeys, "Consider the lilies of the field..." "Martha, you are worried about many things..." "Whoever does the will of my Father is brother and sister and mother to Me..." and the prophecies and predictions and warnings... I thought it was the most complex of the mysteries.

Then I saw I was wrong.

It is the simplest of mysteries, for it is the commonest. It fits so many things of our Lord's life: public or intimate, tender or bold, active in clearing the temple, asleep in the storm-tossed boat, feeding, healing, teaching, arguing, defending, accusing.... revealing Himself as true God and true Man.

And I realized that there was a resonance with my analogy from the Rosary to the amino acids. For there is a very simple amino acid called "glycine" - like the other amino acids, it has the carboxylic acid group (HOC=O) and the amino group (NH2) and a hydrogen connected to the central carbon - but where the so-called "R" group would be attached, there is just a simple, lowly hydrogen.

Glycine is the simplest amino acid, and so can fit where others would be too big or bulky, or have special properties which might get in the way at that point...

Obviously, such a strange analogy can only go so far. But I was startled by this parallel, and so I will think some more about this.


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