One of the things that makes me chuckle, when it does not make me weep, is the certainty some people have that they know what God thinks. The second reading at Mass today should disabuse us of any such foolish notion:
How rich are the depths of God – how deep his wisdom and knowledge – and how impossible to penetrate his motives or understand his methods! Who could ever know the mind of the Lord? Who could ever be his counsellor? Who could ever give him anything or lend him anything? All that exists comes from him; all is by him and for him. To him be glory for ever! Amen. (Romans 11. 33–36)
In those few sentences I think St Paul captures the essence of God’s otherness, his utter transcendence. The trouble is, we do not like being reminded of our own limitations. We exalt reason as a God-given gift, then forget that it is a gift, and one that will take us only so far. St Peter’s confession of faith at Caesarea Philippi has come down to us as a neat theological encapsulation of Jesus’ divine nature and salvific mission, but the evangelist uses the simplest of words, words that might well have sprung from the lips of a Galilean fisherman who grasped intuitively what most of us struggle all our lives to understand: Jesus is our Saviour, the Word made flesh, Son of the living God. We can only wonder and give thanks.