Mysterium Tremendum

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“Mysterium Tremendum”

Leslie Stahl of CBS’ 60 Minutes, did a feature story in 2010 on British savant, Derek Paravicini.  Paravicini is blind and severely disabled.  However, he is a masterful pianist, recalling everything he has heard and capable of playing songs in various genres of music.  His performance on the piano clearly is a tremendous mystery.  On command, he is unable to hold up three fingers, unable to dress himself, unable to remember how old he is.  In the video, he is thirty-one years old.  Stahl’s interview of Derek, his father, and music teacher is phenomenal.  I have included the link for the 60 Minutes story at the end of the Reflection.

There are things that happen in our world that are unexplainable.  They are mysteries.  They are hard to explain and may even be more difficult to believe.  Often we are blessed to see the results of the mystery and are left spellbound.  Such is the case with Derek Paravicini.  Such was the case with Mary.

It is difficult for us to believe that a virgin could become pregnant through the power of the Holy Spirit and give birth to a son who is described as the Savior of the world, as the Messiah.  Yet, that was the description of the mystery, the tremendous mystery unfolded to Mary by the angel, Gabriel.

Approaching Mary, Gabriel told her that she was chosen by God for a very special task.  Gabriel revealed what would happen.  Initially, Mary could not believe the message.  She stated that physically that she was a virgin – did not know a man.  She must have contemplated what the family and community’s response would be to this reality.  Gabriel was prepared for that and shared that Joseph was being prepped to honor their marriage and become the earthly father to the gift from God.  Through the lens of faith, both Mary and Joseph offered themselves to be used by God.

The mystery of Christmas includes Elizabeth, Mary’s cousin.  Elizabeth and her husband, Zechariah, were expecting a baby too and his birth was miraculous, another mystery in God’s unfolding drama in human history.  Elizabeth and Zechariah were old.  She had been barren until she became pregnant with John the Baptist, the one who would set the stage for Jesus’ ministry.

There are events and things that happen and we can see them as coincidences.  Other things are beyond our ability to understand and we see them as mysteries.  God is mysterious.  Often we can see and understand them.  Many remain unfathomable and beyond our comprehension.

The Christmas story is about faith and belief.  You choose if you want to embrace the mystery and the miracle.  I hope you will be opened to the mystery of God being with us – Immanuel!  Amen.

60 Minutes – Lesley Stahl profiles British musical savant Derek Paravicini.