O Magnum Mysterium

 “Nativity I” by Rachel Christine Nowicki

 “Nativity I” by Rachel Christine Nowicki

Thursday, December 13, 2018

O magnum mysterium,

et admirabile sacramentum,

ut animalia viderent Dominum natum, iacentem in praesepio!

Beata Virgo, cujus viscera

meruerunt portare

Dominum Iesum Christum.


O great mystery,

and wonderful sacrament,

that animals should see the newborn Lord, lying in a manger!

Blessed is the Virgin whose womb

was worthy to bear

the Lord, Jesus Christ.


“I [Paul] have become [the church’s] servant by the commission God gave me to prsent to you the Word of God in its fullness— the mystery that has been kept hidden for ages and generations, but is now disclosed to the Lord’s people.” Colossians 1:25-26

I don’t know about you, but I like the idea of this whole faith thing being full of mysteries. I do have lots of questions that I’d like answered, don’t get me wrong. Yet the fact that all of it is not clear at this moment; well, makes it more palpable to me, somehow. Almost like a bridge—sturdy, but made with the flexibility needed to blow in the wind—there are things we cannot understand, and I’m ok with that. I think it would almost be harder to believe, if the Bible was like a Magic 8 Ball or Google.

Every Advent I find myself with a healthy sense of wonder and doubt at the great mysteries, as the carol says. How did a woman get pregnant by the Holy Spirit? Was the star everyone was following just a coincidental astrological phenomenon? How did the shepherds really hear angels singing? Why did God decide to come as a baby?

As Paul tells us in his letter to the Colossians, Jesus (the Word of God) is a mystery hidden for ages and in His fullness broke into this realm at Christmas. Along with Paul, the church today is commissioned or called to be the messenger of these mysteries, even though we don’t totally understand them yet. God trusts us to love these mysteries and through that love, open our hearts to love one another. Mysterious as it may be, I am grateful for the gift of Christ, now and always.

Click here to listen.

Prayer: O keeper of all mysteries, reveal yourself to us this Christmas. Help us have faith, even when we do not have all the answers to our questions. Commission us again to love these questions enough to present to others the Word of God in Jesus. Humble us with your wisdom, knowledge and mercy. In Christ’s name, Amen.

—Merideth Hite Estevez