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Mystery Stories – Br. David Allen

davidallen_1Mt. 9:14-15

My Brothers here know that I am an avid reader of mystery stories.  Today’s Gospel reading is, in a sense, a kind of mystery story.  When I say this I don’t mean a story like a “detective story.”  The relationship of Jesus with his Father is the one true mystery.  The relationship of Jesus and his disciples is another.  The feast we keep today, Mary the God Bearer, is an important part of that Mystery.  The link between Jesus and his disciples and us is also.

Jesus’ presence with his disciples, and their relationship with him is truly a kind of mystery.  Jesus told the disciples of John that as long as he and his disciples were together they would not fast, as the Gospel lesson today told us.  (Cf. v. 15)

Many years ago, when I was in seminary, my spiritual director was a monk of the Order of the Holy Cross.  One of the things he taught me was the desirability of having some “light spiritual reading” available, to avoid spiritual indigestion.

“Light spiritual reading” includes novels that are not too heavy and “good” mystery stories, avoiding violence of the “blood and thunder kind.”

The explanation of this is that “good mystery stories” deal with human deceitfulness, and avoid too much violence.

The kind of mystery that I refer to in the opening verses of today’s Gospel reading is of a different sort from that found in “mystery stories”, and yet there is a certain similarity to them – a sort of spiritual meaning to them.  Webster’s Dictionary defines mystery as something that cannot be explained, something beyond human comprehension.  Prayer and spiritual practices like fasting and self-denial can be thought of as mysteries in so far as we cannot explain how they work by ordinary human reasoning.

When used with prayer, fasting and self-denial become spiritual practices. They can enhance our understanding of the nature of God.

The difference between Holy mysteries and mystery stories is primarily seen in the methods followed as we try to comprehend them.  We can learn to grasp the meaning of Holy mysteries only by prayer and meditation.  We can begin to unravel mystery stories when we follow the clues and see the results of the investigation.

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