Wednesday, December 06, 2006

December 06, 2006 (J2) Alanine

Alanine - the Visitation (J2)

December 06, 2006

As St. Luke tells us, the merely days-pregant Mary "set off in haste" to go see Elizabeth. Now that we have considered the special beginning AUG symbol, and its other use for the rather special sulfur-containing Methionine with its single code, we too set off into the main collection of amino acids. Again and again we'll see those same three: a single hydrogen, the -NH2 amine, and the -COOH carboxylic acid, all linked to the central carbon, and see how the "side chain" can vary in its complexity. We'll also see variations in the number of codes which are used by the mRNA to select that amino acid to be added to the growing protein.

Today's amino acid is Alanine, which is one of the hydrophobic group. That is, its side chain will tend to avoid the surrounding water in the living cell, and try to stay clustered together with other such hydrophobic groups. This clustering suggests the strongly common character of the Joyful mysteries, in which our Lord is one-celled (J1) or unborn (J2) or newborn (J3) or a week old (J4) or 12 years old (J5) - yet all of which are rather more closely related to each other than to those of the Public Ministry in the L mysteries, the Passion in the S mysteries, or the Glorious Life of the G mysteries.

Alanine (abbreviated Ala or A)
RNA Codes:

Note that all four of the codes for Alanine begin with GC - it does not matter what the third base is. This is part of the superlative design of the protective machinery of the genetic code: that third base is completely immune to mutation. (We'll see more about this as we go.)

The side chain of Alanine is the very simple -CH3 methyl group. (Only one other amino acid is simpler, and I will explain its symbolism in due course.) Here, we might take the simplicity of the four atoms in the methyl group as a suggestion of the four simple characters in our mystery:
(1) Elizabeth's few words acknowledge the divine maternity even at this extremely early stage
(2) John leaps for joy at the nearness of the Redemption
(3) The great paradox that Mary who magnifies the infinite God comes to serve her relative during a pregancy in "advanced age".
(4) Our unborn Lord Who "humbled Himself to come among us as a Man" - He submits to being "knit together" just as we were (see Psalm 139(138):13). Indeed, this simplicity is a strong reminder of our unborn Lord hidden within Mary: as He proceeds through the various stages of prenatal life, yes, as simple as that... multiple cells, the blastomeres (or morula), the blastula, the division into "germ layers" and finally the beginnings of the various organs and systems. How profound to ponder that it was during that time - while Mary was with Elizabeth during those three months - that the Sacred Heart first began to beat - the rhythm of Divine Love entered the kosmos.

As we think on the simplicity of Alanine and of the Visitation, may we proclaim as Elizabeth did, jump for joy as John did, serve as Mary did, and love with all our heart as Jesus did.


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