Since the start of Advent, we have been following a series of reflections on the theme of “Word”. Words convey truth, knowledge and love. They have content, express meaning, and enable communication. They provide an essential connection with the world and between human beings that is uniquely human. Yet when all is said and done, words are not fully adequate to the task. This limitation is certainly familiar to practitioners of my profession, physics. Words fail adequately to convey the strange world that we find at the limits of our capacity to observe, in domains far removed from our ordinary world, where analogies with everyday phenomena break down. Yet if you think about it, how can you even fully capture in words the aroma of a cup of coffee? There is more to the world than words can express. Albert Einstein was aware of a fundamental mystery at the heart of reality when he wrote: “The most incomprehensible thing about the universe is that it is comprehensible.” Ironically that comprehension is for the most part articulated in words.
If it is difficult to capture the things of the world in words, then how much more difficult is it to express the things of God. Perhaps that is why so much of Scripture is comprised of stories about people–any one of us can relate to such stories. We can only know of God to the extent that He has revealed something of Himself to us: “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, says the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” (Is 55:8-9) God’s central communication to us is through Jesus, Who is properly called the Word made flesh. If the story of Jesus as the Messiah of Israel is to reveal the reality of God the Father to us, we also need the indwelling presence of God’s Holy Spirit to open our imaginations to the words of Scripture. As we read Scripture and make its words our own, the Spirit will renew us in God’s image so we can become more like Jesus. As we end this series of reflections, I pray that each of you will take the mystery of God’s Word to heart, and “the peace of God, which passes all understanding, will keep your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Phil. 4:7)