There is a deep mysticism from which of the work of the Church by necessity flows. God in Christ is the revelation of a mystery, a mystery that the Holy Scriptures insist “was hidden from the foundation of the world”. Unless one encounters the mystery of Christ, one will not know Christ- and you cannot become like someone that you do not know.
Knowing Christ is to encounter him in mystery. In another world, our encounter with Christ will be more direct, but in this world, Christ chooses to reveal himself in the foreshadowings of the prophets and through the mediation of the Sacraments, that is, in mysterious realities that resist our attempts to make the Lord Jesus into a mere projection of our opinions, emotions and experiences.
Even for those who knew Christ as he revealed himself in the flesh, found him to be confounding. He was and is mysterious and those who come to know him will be invited to love him, but those who truly love him will never shake the experience of Christ so aptly reported by the eyewitness accounts in the Gospel of Mark, who insisted that in their encounter with Christ, they were “amazed and afraid.”
If our love for Christ is true, we must be willing to accept him in his mystery, and it is only if our love for Christ is true that we will be able to serve him as he wants to be served.
We will be tempted to dispel the mystery of Christ with our desire to control, to insist that our plans take precedence over God’s, and it is precisely this temptation that bedeviled King David in our scripture from the Second Book of Samuel.
King David has grand plans for God and looks to the Lord to sanction those plans. God has other plans in mind and through the prophet Nathan reminds great and mighty King David that he (David) doesn’t give God a mission- God gives David his mission.
King David wanted to give God a temple, but God planned on a temple that would not be built by David himself, but through David’s descendants, and the Lord God would not need David’s wealth and power to build that temple, and he would still build a temple that would exceed David’s plans in a manner that would be absolutely breathtaking.
This temple, the Lord’s temple, would be the body of Christ the Lord.
This body, this temple, would be revealed to David’s descendants for the first time on the day of Christ’s birth. The world would then see the plan that God had in mind.
Several days ago we heard the account of how God, through an angel, informed the priest Zechariah, that he would have a son, and this son had been set apart for an extraordinary mission. Zechariah’s son would be the man we know as John the Baptist.
Zechariah seemed to have other plans, for his response to the angel of the Lord was doubt, rather than acceptance of God’s plan. And rather than praising God for the blessing of a son, Zechariah was rendered mute until the day of his son’s birth. Why did Zechariah doubt? Maybe hearing God’s plan, he was disappointed that it didn’t conform to his own (plan).
And now, today, that blessing deferred by doubt, spills forth in effusive, eloquent words of praise and thanksgiving to God. An act of faith in God’s plan, like first light of dawn, dispels the darkness of Zechariah’s doubts. God’s plan is coming to its fulfillment. God is on his way, soon to be revealed in Christ the Lord, and Zechariah’s son will prepare the Israelites, longing for the advent of Emmanuel, to receive him.
The mystery of God in Christ, hidden from the foundations of the world, the plan of God, will be revealed.
The lesson in all this for us is as intense and off-putting as the mystery of God in Christ. How much of time and effort we expend on our plans?!
But in the end little of it will have mattered if, while in pursuit of the fulfillment of our own plans, we have never even considered that in terms of a plan for our lives, God had something else in mind.