“Behold! I tell you a mystery.” — Corinthians 15:51
How many of us have been energized by that line from Handel’s “Messiah”, which leads into the magnificent trumpet flourish and aria, announcing the resurrection of the dead? But what is a mystery? Let us say what it is not: it is not a story akin to the who-dun-its of Agatha Christie or Perry Mason or Columbo. Theologically and even sociologically speaking, a mystery refers to the whole plan by which God saves us in Christ.
And so, it is proper to speak of the two fundamental doctrines of Christianity, the Incarnation and the Resurrection of the Lord, as “mysteries.” When presented for belief, both call for a response of humility. Is it mere happenstance that to enter the Basilica of the Nativity in Bethlehem, one must bow low, in order to enter (the original door being partially blocked, so that the invading Muslim horsemen could not defame the holy site); likewise, entering the edicule, or burial site of Our Lord in the Church of the Holy Sepulcher requires the pilgrim to bow low to enter?