Monday, December 11, 2006

December 11, 2006 (J5) Isoleucine

Isoleucine - the Finding in the Temple (J5)

December 11, 2006

With today's posting, we complete our examination of the Joyful Mysteries. Recall that I have been making an analogy from them to the hydrophobic amino acids - which (if you have been following your own amino acid list) means that I don't have a lot of choices left. But if you consider the amino acids for J2 (Alanine) and J3 (Valine) and J4 (Leucine) it should be rather obvious that J5 should be Isoleucine.

Isoleucine (abbreviated Ile or I)
RNA Codes:

Isoleucine is rather odd, as it has three possible codes. It almost seems as if (like Alanine or Valine) it has a "wobble base" in the third position, as all three start with AU. But which code starting with AU is not used? Ah - it's our old familiar "AUG" - which we remember is both the starting signal, and also the code for Methionine (which we used for J1).

This amino acid always makes me laugh, because I'm always expecting a comedy chemist to make a joke about "I love Lucy-ne". After all, can Lucy be far behind if C2H5- is called "Ethyl"? (Hee hee)

Ahem. If you compare Isoleucine to Leucine, you will find they are VERY similar. In fact, this is what chemists call an isomer - the chemical has the same quantities of elements, but the relations between them (the bonding) is different. In today's amino acid, the side chain would be called "sec-butyl" in other compounds.

This very strong - familial? - resemblance between Leucine and Isoleucine parallels the strong relation between J4 and J5. In J5, the Finding of Jesus in the Temple, we see Jesus, Mary and Joseph in the Temple - just as we saw them in J4. In both cases, the pivotal issue - the drama - is that Jesus is given over to God. In J4, Mary and Joseph present Him, but offer (in a kind of mystical trade) the prescribed sacrifice. In J5, Jesus is now 12 years old, probably (after the Bar Mitzvah?) considered a young adult - and He seems to "offer" Himself - so one might explain that strange statement to His parents: "I must be in My Father's house, about My Father's business."

And yet He returns with them and stays with them in Nazareth another eighteen years...

Somehow in the terse dialog, so poignant, and yet so uplifting, there is an echo of another line which we shall hear very soon when we examine L2: "My time has not yet come." Yes, in J5, as in L2, the time had not yet come. But He would return to the Temple - to His Father's house - soon enough.

May we long to be in our Father's house, and ask Jesus, Mary, and Joseph to guide us to our Home!


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