Here's another piece of God-incidence: honest to God Bill Farrelly sent us this commentary some weeks ago, long before the discussion Vynette has triggered on Catholica about the mystery of the Virgin Birth. What Bill writes though fits in so well with that discussion and no doubt will fire the discussion up even further. He takes the question wider though to ponder: why are we human beings so afraid of mystery?
Thanks Anyway, I prefer the Mystery
by Bill Farrelly
ARE YOU comfortable with mystery?
I guess most people — most of the time — prefer to have a good, or at least a reasonable, understanding of what is happening and why it is happening. In other words, we prefer to not have to live with uncertainty. And thanks to our God-given brain and the brains of the geniuses among us we mostly don't have to.
But what about when there is no choice at all? Are you comfortable then?
I am not sure whether I am odd in this regard but there are aspects of life that I prefer remain entirely mysterious. I am not including the future in this essay because I believe that the vast majority of people do not want to know what the future holds. Some do, and they will go to great lengths to try to anticipate it. Again, it makes sense to prepare for the future, but I am not talking about that either — that is common sense and has nought to do with mystery.
One of the reasons I am prompted to muse on this subject is a book given to me by a friend. It is called The Jesus Dynasty, and its author, James D. Tabor, is I suspect not comfortable with mystery. In other circumstances I might not have persevered to the end of the book but as it was a gift from someone whom I respect I did.
The premise of the book is that Jesus had a human father; to complicate matters further the author speculates that his father was not Joseph. Among the many questions I would like to ask the author, one is foremost: why are you so uncomfortable with the mystery of the virgin birth? He, the author, seems to believe in God and if that is the case, his inablility to believe in Jesus being the son of God is a mystery to me.
Tabor also takes it as given that Jesus had many half-siblings, four brothers and two sisters, all or none of whom, he suggests, may have been fathered by Joseph.
In a previous musing published elsewhere, and contrary to Church teaching, I wondered whether Joseph and Mary may have consumated their marriage after the birth of Jesus? To those of you who feel uncomfortable with this notion, I apologise. But I dismissed the possibility of Jesus having siblings for the simple reason that, based on our human understanding of genetics, they would have had to share his genes, a possibility I consider untenable.
The biggest mystery to mere mortals is how could Jesus become incarnate of a virgin? Except — and pardon my arrogance — I don't see it as a mystery at all. It is a miracle. Of course we cannot understand it. So what?
I am in awe of, and thrilled by, the tenacity, patience and wisdom of scientists who probe into life's mysteries and provide us with answers. They can challenge me 'til the cows come home but from my perspective they are simply fulfilling one of God's plans for mankind.
They will never, however, be able to prove the non-existence of God, nor unravel the mystery of mysteries — the origin of God. We are taught that God has no origin, a concept impossible for our human minds to grasp. Nevertheless we accept it as part of the mystery of our faith.
Occasionally and naively some so-called expert will express great joy at the prospect of one day understanding in this life "everything" that we do not now comprehend. A much-loved uncle — who because of his celestial residence now knows the answers to at least some of these mysteries — long ago gave me some very wise advice: never bet unless you are sure of the outcome!
Unfortunately I would not live to collect but I would willingly have an odds-on wager with those experts and their predictions of solving all life's mysteries.
It cannot be done.
What are your thoughts on this commentary?