Today's Reading: Luke 1; John 1:1-14
Right from the beginning of the New Testament, the first words spoken by a human are the words we all, at one time or another, utter in our minds. Some even dare to speak them aloud.
"How can I be sure of this?"
It is the question of faith. It speaks to the "stuckness" of our feet in the very miry clay from which we came. It is hard for us to think, much less believe outside the visible and scientific, the factual and the visible things we know of this world.
How can I be sure there is a God?
How can I be sure when I see a vision or dream a dream?
How can I be sure of mysterious impossibilities?
How can I be sure of strange faith stories, of testimonies from long ago or even from friends today?
How can I be sure of this?
In the Greek, the question comes in this form:
How can I understand this?
How will I know this?
How can I perceive this?
The question points to our problem.
How can I understand God and the ways of God with just this feeble, finite mind?
How will I know this is all true? Will there be proof? Can you show me the formula and give me something I can sense with my ears, eyes, hands...?
How will I perceive and recognize this even when it is standing right in front of me? How will this be revealed to me?
The author of Luke begins by sharing his research and careful investigation, hoping to convince Theophilus (whose name means "the friend of God.") His account tries to give the facts---dates, times, historical markers---in which the mystery exploded.
John speaks in mysterious paradigms and symbols to give depth and breadth to the physical and spiritual realities of the man Jesus who, though, looking like a common human, shocked, amazed and transformed those around him.
How can we be sure of this God, this Jesus, this story of salvation and love?
That is a mystery.
The gospel writers will give us their testimony. And then we wait.
We wait as our forefathers and mothers waited for the birthing of the miracle despite our barrenness.
Some of us wait mutely.
Some of us wait hopefully.
Some of us wait cautiously.
Some of us wait expectantly.
Notice that Mary asks the same question. "How will this be, considering my limitations," asks Mary.
It is our question.
Perhaps the answer comes as it did to Mary.
"The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you...For nothing is impossible with God."
Come, Holy Spirit, come.