Of Mercury and Meteorites

Yesterday a meteorite injured hundreds in central Russia and Nasa scientists showed off a new map of Mercury remarkable for the complexity of the geological and chemical forms it reveals. Meanwhile, the media were concentrating on the passage of an asteroid 17,000 miles away from earth. There is an irony in that. We know so much about the universe we inhabit, and yet so little! The course of the asteroid was predicted, but the meteorite took everyone by surprise; and as for the Mercury map, its sheer beauty and the questions it poses will keep us occupied for a long time to come.

The parallel with the spiritual life is clear. Two thousand years of Christian experience have provided us with pointers on which we can rely, but always there is something more, something for which we are not prepared. If Lent is doing its work in us, we are being gradually opened up to the wonder and beauty of God in new and unexpected ways, and, contrary to what some popular books on prayer suggest, that can be a painful and contradictory experience. It can feel like being pulled apart — destroyed even — rather than growth.

Tomorrow’s Gospel invites us to go out into the desert with Christ and face down the temptations to pride and self-sufficiency from which we all suffer. Implicit in that invitation is the understanding that temptation will come to us again and again, in ever more seductive forms, but so too will grace. Our job is to be on the alert, ready to respond.


8 thoughts on “Of Mercury and Meteorites”

  1. Yes, strange that, how learning something new about God can follow what feels like losing everything . It’snot that we’re not warned either: the seed dying in the ground, pruning, losing our life to save it, the experiences of the saints . I like the passage in the “Lion, Wich and Wardrobe” where Mr. Beaver reminds the children, “Aslan is not a tame lion.”

  2. I read this morning it was more like 1,100 people injured by the meteorite’s effects, watched the news on TV of people being treated by nurses, doctors, medics, all looking quite in shock. An enormous dollar value on repairs required to buildings. All this out of the blue.

    Harold and I survived a very serious car collision at the beginning of Dec., our car totaled and crushed, glass everywhere. We had minor injuries, we were able to extricate ourselves from our vehicle, and when emergency responders arrived they had difficulty believing we were the front seat occupants, so severe the damage, yet were upright, stunned though relatively unscathed. 17 days of pain in recovery ensued, but the overriding feeling was one of immense gratitude towards God, whose hand we were certain was upon us, saving us for whatever purpose He had in mind.

    Advent was an entirely different experience for us this year, waiting not only for the birth of Jesus, but for the resolution of our insurance claim, the healing of sore ribs and multiple bruises. Lent, too, has a different flavour this year, as having come close death, we sensed that what was imminent was nothing to be afraid of, yet we still treasure the gift of life.

    Life can change in a heartbeat, despite our well laid out plans we never know what’s next, do we? Best to be prepared, be right with God and neighbour, Lent is an excellent time to celebrate the Sacrament of Reconciliation, feel the joy of our second chance, appreciate that we are never alone, whether in a desert, a mangled car, God is that close we can almost reach out and touch His presence.

    • I’m sure I speak for all when I say how glad we are that you and Harold survived that car crash, and that our prayers for your continuing recovery accompany you. The shock must have been dreadful. (As an aside, in the cause of international understanding, ‘hundreds’ in English English can signify any number under 2,000 or 3,000 whereas ‘thousands’ tends to means over that number. I wished to suggest a large number without implying exactitude.)

      • Interesting clarification on the use of the term “hundreds”, internationally speaking.

        Our priest gave a wonderful homily on temptation last evening and the reality of Satan and his lures. It fit perfectly with what I experienced after the crash, the harder it became to deal with the other driver’s insurance the greater my resentment and anger towards the agent and driver. As a result a drifting away from the initial consolation. So, we settled for less than our due, left the situation with God. Eventually peace of mind and spirit returned, and strangely, windfalls from other areas making up our initial loss. There is nothing worth losing the peace of God over – the one thing Satan cannot give.

        Thank you for your kind wishes and prayers, much appreciated!

  3. Heard an excellent sermon this morning on temptation and how we can use the example of Jesus in the Desert overcoming the devil.

    Having in mind a particularly favorite passage of scripture as we feel the temptation might help us to hear the word of God more clearly than that tempting words of the devil.

    Jesus had a powerful grasp of God’s word, I wish that I had just one tiny iota of his grasp.

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