Solving the Mystery of God

“Teacher, Moses wrote for us, If someone’s brother dies leaving a wife but no child, his brother must take the wife and raise up descendants for his brother. Now there were seven brothers; the first married a woman but died childless. Then the second and the third married her, and likewise, all the seven died childless.  Finally, the woman also died. Now at the resurrection whose wife will that woman be? For all seven had been married to her.” Gospel of St. Luke, 20:27


Little Johnny says to his mom, (Why is it always “Johnny,” not little “Joey”), “Mom, my shoe is talking to me.” Mom thinks for a brief moment and replies, “Shoes don’t talk, son.” “But mom,” retorts the son…” “Go make your bed,” says mom, who truly believes that shoes don’t talk in spite of her three-inch heels that kills her at every dinner party. “I need more room,” says her shoe to the unlistening mom.

So begins the adventure of life. So, especially lives the life of a religious believer. A mystery that is so often solved by us mortals. And, so often, so wrongly, wrong.

Angela Lansbury solved her TV mysteries in one hour. It took TV’s Columbo ninety minutes to solve his evening’s mystery. Women!

How many times do we like to play God by asking Him trick questions as though we can baffle an answer out of Him? Only, intended only for our own liking? Like seven brothers married to one woman…sounds like Elizabeth Taylor (minus Richard Burton once).

Years ago, in grade school, on All Soul’s Day, the Church said we could say an “Our Father, Hail Mary and Glory Be” inside the church. It had to be done inside the church. We then needed to leave the church because a soul ascended to Heaven. All because of our three simple prayers. And miracles of miracles, we were able to repeat this as often as our little feet or minds could endure this repetitious ritual. It sounds silly today, but back then, it was pretty important work. (Taking the place of God’s judgment is a big job. It’s too bad we feel the urge to take God’s place! Yet, how often do we do it?)

For TV shows, the verb is “solve.” For us Christians, the verb in “immerse.” Immerse yourself in the beautiful wonder of a faith that is never completely understood (remember that word) but lived within the mystery of our own lives.

How many of you could describe for me the mystery of the complexities of your life? No one. We’d leave out the juicy parts and present only our best. We wake up in the morning, fully confident of all our gifts and talents, and return to those bedsheets asking ourselves, “What went wrong today?” Mystery. Or, the opposite, “Why went right with that passing day?”

Being good shopping Americans, we can talk to God the way we talk to the Best Buy salesperson. We want some details before giving ourselves over to something. We do our homework on the internet and then approach the ‘Best Buy” guy (or God) with our semi-intelligent questions about the difference between 4K and LED as though we were praying to God about our personal salvation. All the while, when we’ve been blessed with His divinity.

After the consecration, I sing four simple words on your behalf. Four simple, powerful words that sum up our journey and our divine answer to our human question.

The readings about multiple marriages today simply boils down to that one simple question. A question that we all ask too often in our lives – “What’s in it for me?” Salvation? “Peace of mind?” “A future investment on an unknown return?” If you’re young, it’s “Keeping my parents off my back?” “A mortal sin?” “I just like Fr. Joe?” Take your pick.

The Church’s mystery is meant to be lived, not solved. We feebly attempt to define, categorize, compartmentalize, shrink to our meager level instead of the unknown level of His, all in a foolish attempt to control and unravel the workings of a mysterious God and attempting to unravel the mysterious lives that we all live. Ain’t going to happen, folks.

Keep pondering, keep exploring, keep asking yourselves those unanswerable questions. If shows that you’re alive, interested, and not caring about answers from the Almighty. We just want to keep asking them.

I ask questions with no answers myself, and even more so, as I get older. And, I get the same answers you get. That’s the wonder and the wonderful meaning of faith. Faith in something beyond yourself and absolutely beyond your understanding. (I told you to listen to that word.) When in church, erase “understanding” from your prayerful vocabulary and immerse yourself in the wonders of this Christian faith.

Mom could have wisely said back to her questioning young, son, “My shoes talk to me too!”


About Rev. Joe Jagodensky, SDS.

A Roman Catholic priest since 1980 and a member of the Society of the Divine Savior (Salvatorians). Six books on the Catholic church and U.S. culture are available on
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