Friday, December 08, 2006

December 08, 2006 (G4) Tryptophan

Tryptophan - the Assumption (G4)

December 08, 2006

We interrupt our Advent for a Solemnity: the feast of the Immaculate Conception. Today, nine months before the birthday of Mary, we celebrate that moment when, in the natural marital act between Joachim and Anna, at the moment of the creation of Mary, God (by foreknowledge of the Redemptive Act of the Son) preserved her free from the sin all men inherit from Adam.

This was the great announcement-bell that was rung, proclaiming that the new creation had begun. It was a "window-opening moment", dividing time, as Noah flung open the window on the flood... there would be a culmination at the Baptism in the Jordan, when the dove would again be seen above the waters.

But the mystery of this feast, so great, so Christ-centered, is not to be found among of the mysteries of the Rosary. So what's a poor tech writer like me to do? Obviously, use a "figure of speech" - a metonymy - and take the next closest as a representative.

Which mystery is that? Clearly it must be a Glorious mystery, since today is a solemnity. It should somehow be "hidden" as was the Immaculate Conception: a real historical event, yet not literally recorded as such in the Bible. Hence, let us consider G4, the Assumption - the "bookend" feast which is the direct result of today's feast. Our Eastern brothers call that mystery the "Dormition", and it may almost sound like a chemical joke to select Tryptophan as its representative. But as I mentioned previously, I had already chosen to use the "ring" side-chains to represent the Glorious Mysteries, and the appearance of the nitrogen in the ring suggests a specially Marian connection.

(Nor could I select the last Glorious, which has its own special and most dramatic representation, as you shall see.)

Tryptophan (abbreviated Trp or W)
RNA Codes:

Yes, like Methionine, there is only one code for Tryptophan.

Tryptophan is perhaps the only amino acid to be well-known because of its so-called "turkey-sleep" properties. Like methionine, it is not of frequent use in proteins. It has the largest of the side-chains: a methyl group -CH2- connects to a double ring, one with a nitrogen. The side chain has a total of 9 carbons, 1 nitrogen, and 8 hydrogens.

Tryptophan is hydrophobic, and will try to stay clustered with other such amino acids, away from the surrounding water of the living cell. This suggests a strong relation of G4 to the Joyful mysteries - Mary seems to be the prominent character and yet her Son, true God and true Man, here hidden even more than in any of the Joyfuls, is seen to be In Act (see Mark 16:20), for "only God can raise the dead" (cf. John 5:21). Note we do not say that Mary "ascended" (which would mean she did it herself) - but that she was "assumed" which means "taken up" (what an elevator does for us) by the divine power of her Son! This privilege was merited by her divine maternity, and in particular by her deathless martyrdom at Calvary, and so is closely tied to today's mystery as well.

G4 can be one of the hardest mysteries to ponder because of its extreme hidden qualities. At first, this seems reasonable, because we are confronted with the idea of Mary's sinlessness. But we have overlooked something, or rather two things. First, we're going to have to be sinless in some sense if we're going to get into heaven. Since most of us do sin, and even frequently, this is what Confession is for. We can get another try at it - and it's far better than even the "Groundhog Day" kind of re-try, because it's real. Second, we ARE going to be "taken up" just as Mary was, at the end of time. So far from being a "distant" or near-irrelevant mystery, this is more like an advertisement for going to heaven! You know: "It's up to you: Mary did it, and so can you." No, we're not going to get the chance to stand at the foot of the Cross, or escape to Egypt, or hurry about Jerusalem looking for Jesus, or ask about running out of wine at a wedding-feast. But there are lots of little things we can do which can witness to Jesus, defend Him, seek greater knowledge of Him, and be of service to others through Him... It's up to us if we want to follow her as she followed Him.

Today, let us remember her last recorded words, the words which are her hallmark and her life: "Do whatever He tells you."


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