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When I started writing “More Enigma”, I began with “Mysteries and Secrets” as a way of describing the mystery of our worth to the One who made us for Himself.  A mystery is not merely a secret kept from us.  Jean Vanier beautifully explains this difference:

A secret can be divulged, and then there is nothing further to discover.  But a mystery is never exhausted; we can always plunge deeper into it.  And I say “plunge” deliberately, because a mystery is something we inhabit.  We don’t contain it; it contains us, because it is larger than we are.  A secret dwells in us.  But we dwell in a mystery.  A mystery can contain all of us, each with the singularity and uniqueness of our own secret, in relationship with the secret of others.

Radical Humility

This perspective invites humility, or as Christine Painterner puts it, mystery invites radical humility:

For me, the spiritual journey is not about growing more certain about the world, but rather about embracing more and more the mystery at the heart of everything and living into the great questions of life. In a world where so many people are so very certain about the nature of things, especially in religious circles about who God includes and excludes, I believe unknowing calls us to a radical humility.

From “Embracing a Midwinter God” by Christine Valters Painterner.

While Painterner may not be growing more certain about world, the Spirit of God does inspire a growing certainty of His love and our lovability, as Augustine said:

Quia amasti me, fecisti me amabilem.”

“In loving me, you made me lovable.

God in the Person right in front of you

A year before he died, Jesuit Theologian Leon Dufour confided in the person who was caring for him, “… I think, in the end, God is the person you are talking to, the one right in front of you” [another allusion to Jesus in Matthew 25).

Mother Teresa’s ministry might have been built entirely on this understanding, as the first words of her daily prayer indicate:

Dearest Lord, may I see you today and every day in the person of your sick, and whilst nursing them, minister unto you…

In his famous essay, “This Weight of Glory“, C.S. Lewis resonates with this when he writes:

There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. Nations, cultures, arts, civilization—these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub, and exploit—immortal horrors or everlasting splendours…

Next to the Blessed Sacrament itself, your neighbour is the holiest object presented to your senses.

Radical Humility and Worshipful Awe

While “unknowing calls us to radical humility,” there is a knowing of the heart that elicits worshipful awe. Not only do we rejoice in the enigma of our worth, but as Hans Urs Von Balthasar paraphrased the Beatitudes, we continually stand before enigmas:

Blessed, rather, are the chased,
the harassed who must daily stand
before my enigmas and cannot solve them.

The Radical Gospel

The gospel of Jesus Christ is radical – for it begins with His incarnation – God’s radical solidarity expressed though radical hospitality and radical inclusion that results in our radical repentance.

With so much about Christ that is radical (profound, far-reaching, complete, comprehensive), what else can our soul do but respond with radical humility and worshipful awe?


I welcome your informed response.