Doxology à la St. Paul

Greg Monroe had a nice dunk in the first half, though he did not have a great game
Greg Monroe had a nice dunk in the first half, though he did not have a great game
If it were a contest of faithfulness to the holy Church, Mount St. Mary’s would probably win.

And if the Mount were allowed to put its seminarians on the orthodoxy team, then they would kick Georgetown’s b–t.

But in basketball, it was a different story.

The Hoyas and Mountaineers hadn’t played since 1962. Georgetown won by eleven points, but the game was actually closer than that. It was a battle–not a pretty battle, but a battle nonetheless.

The Hoyas missed two out of every three shots. The Mount hung in the game until the last two minutes. The Hoyas got the W, but J.T. III said that he is not pleased: “I expect more from this group.”

Speaking for myself, I will take the Hoya win.

On another subject: The people in church will be spared the Preacher this Sunday morning. The deacon will be preaching.

Hoyas' Coach John Thompson III
Hoyas' Coach John Thompson III
But for you gluttons for punishment, here is a homily for the Fourth Sunday of Advent:

Brothers and sisters: To him who can strengthen you, according to my gospel and the proclamation of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery kept secret for long ages but now manifested through the prophetic writings and, according to the command of the eternal God,
made known to all nations to bring about the obedience of faith, to the only wise God, through Jesus Christ be glory forever and ever. Amen.
(Romans 16:25-27)

Let’s listen again to the way St. Paul glorified God in the passage we heard from his letter to the Romans. He wrote: “To the only wise God be glory forever.”

May God be glorified, dear brothers and sisters.

But, come on! We know that St. Paul’s sentences are never that short. He added: “To Him who can strengthen you according to the Gospel, to the one wise God, be glory forever. Amen.” Amen!

Even this sentence is not long enough to doxologize God, though. The Holy Apostle added: “This gospel is the proclamation of Jesus Christ.” And more: It is the “revelation of the mystery kept secret for long ages but now manifested.”

What does St. Paul mean by this, the “mystery kept hidden for long ages?”

wise-menIf we search back to the misty depths of human history, we discover this: Mankind has always been intrigued by the unknowable mystery of God. We have always known that God is immeasurably greater than us. The wise have always acknowledged that we cannot grasp God; we cannot know His elevated mind.

But we want to.

Why did God make the world? Why did He make it like it is and not different? Why did He make each of us, each particular individual? What is His plan? What are we supposed to do? What is the goal—the goal of each life in particular and of the world in general?

These are seriously important questions. But if we are honest we acknowledge that by ourselves we have no way even to begin to answer them. God knows the answers. God knows His reasons, His plans, His goals. But we human beings do not know God’s mind.

It would be wonderful to know it. The only way for us to have a solid idea about the answers to the most important questions of life would be for God Himself to come down from heaven to tell us the answers.

mosesSt. Paul added even more to his doxology: The mystery kept hidden for long ages has been “manifested through the prophetic writings.”

God began to make His mind known to us human beings during the Old Covenant. Through the prophet Moses, God gave the Israelites the Ten Commandments. In the Ten Commandments, God spelled out the basic rules of life for us.

St. Paul continued: Then, “according to the command of the eternal God, the revelation of the mystery was made known to all nations.”

God became man and revealed Himself in full. If we want the answers to our questions about the mystery of God, we will find them all in one place: Christ. He is the form of God, the power of God, the wisdom of God; all fullness dwells in Him.

How do we know this? St. Paul put that in the sentence, too: “through the obedience of faith.” The divinity of Christ is a matter of faith. The most important thing there is to know—namely, that Jesus is God—is something that right now we believe. Someday we will see it. For now we obediently believe it.

ihs‘Wait a minute, Father,’ you may be saying—‘why is it a matter of obedience? After all, don’t we have plenty of evidence? Christ worked miracles, He raised people from the dead, He Himself rose from the dead, and He ascended into heaven. We have reliable eye-witness testimony for all these facts. Isn’t that proof enough?’

Granted, these facts of history are signs that Christ is God. But we believe more than these facts. We believe more than that Jesus worked miracles, more than that He raised people from the dead. We believe even more than that He Himself rose from the dead and ascended into heaven.

Christ is more than a prophet and more than a saint. Christ is more than the godliest man who ever lived. Christ is God Himself. Christ is the Creator, the Almighty One, the One above Whom there is no other. He—the man Jesus—He is the unseen, unknowable, transcendent mystery. In Person.

The only way to know this is to believe it. That is the whole point of St. Paul’s lengthy sentence. Christ is the revelation of the unknowable God, the God who right now we can only reach by faith. Therefore, the identity of Jesus is a matter of faith, not proof.

speed-bumpDon’t get me wrong, though: our faith is not blind. Christ has given us plenty of good reasons to believe in Him. We would be fools NOT to believe that He is the divine Son He claimed to be.

St. Paul may have long sentences. The whole reading was one sentence! But every word is precious. Every word tells us something about the divine Truth born on Christmas day.

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