Saturday, December 09, 2006

December 09, 2006 (J4) Leucine

Leucine - the Presentation (J4)

December 09, 2006

As we come to the end of the first week of Advent, we are nearly finished with the Joyful Mysteries. Today we remember how, in accordance with the Law, Mary and Joseph brought Jesus to the Temple, to offer Him as the Firstborn. How strange it is when we read that He, Jesus the God-Man, Whose Name means "God saves" was Himself redeemed with a pair of turtle-doves or two young pigeons! But it was done. And in this mystery, we are given the third of the great Gospel Canticles, the "Nunc Dimittis" of Simeon, the dear confident lullaby which the Church sings at Her bedtime (though most call it Night Prayer, or Compline). Yes, that reminds me I neglected to mention that the other two great Canticles, the gates of Morning (the Benedictus of Zacharias) and of Evening (the Magnificat of Mary) are pondered in J2 (the Visitation). But I have already told you about the "strongly connected" character of the Church!

So we already have one connection between today's J4 and another Joyful (J2). But then all the Joyfuls are to a degree "hidden" mysteries - the young Jesus is known or seen only by a very few. This common trait of these "hidden" mysteries is, in my series, matched by the hydrophobic character of certain amino acids, which tend to keep their side-chains with like amino acids and awy from the surrounding water of the living cell. There being only two more to choose from, and two which are very similar to each other, I let that commonality work to my advantage, though I will defer a fuller discussion until Monday when we shall see J5 and we shall then see more into Leucine and its relation to J4.

Leucine (abbreviated Leu or L)
RNA Codes:

This amino acid has six codes: any of the four which start with CU, and two which start with UU followed by a purine (A or G).

The side chain of Leucine looks as if we took a methyl group -CH2- and stuck the side chain of Valine (J3) onto the central (alpha) carbon - thus suggesting the very close relation in time between J3 and J4. In other componds, this side chain is called "isobutyl".

When I considered J3's Valine, I nodded to its three carbons and seven hydrogens; here one might see another, more unsettling symbolism: for the Y-shaped side chain of Leucine gives the hint of the Cross (S5) where the offering made in J4 was accomplished - and accepted, on behalf of Adam the Firstborn and his descendents. In S5 then, as in J4, the Firstborn was indeed Redeemed.

Yes, even Valine has that cruciform character, and it will be more clearly understood in this context. In "The God in the Cave", GKC's profound meditation on the Nativity, he writes:
For those who think the idea of the Crusade is one that spoils the idea of the Cross, we can only say that for them the idea of the Cross is spoiled; the idea of the Cross is spoiled quite literally in the Cradle.
[GKC, The Everlasting Man CW2:314]
We need to emphasize again and again that these mysteries are deeply, intimately, wonderfully connected! It's why we celebrate Holy Mass (the re-presenting of Christ's Death) on Christmas, and why even on Holy Thurday at 6PM, with scant hours before we commemorate that Death, we are saying the Angelus prayer of the Incarnation (J1).

Somehow all this is also hinted at in the chemistry of life - to paraphrase St. Paul, there are many amino acids, but the same carbon. The same DNA directs the formation of the multitudinous components of the machinery of life. Let us then be as single-purposed, dedicated to doing the varied tasks which accomplish work of the Life of the Spirit.


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