Homily by Rev. Tom Coughlin, OP Miss. 8/22/15
St. Timothy Church– 4:00pm Mass in sign language
Permit me ask you this one question: which do you think is one of the most important accomplishments we human beings have had done in the past one hundred year? For me, personally, I believe that the sending of the Hubble space telescope above the earth is one of the major accomplishments mankind had ever done. Why? It is because we now can take pictures of the infinite space, the sights no man had ever seen since the dawn of creation. These pictures of our universe, photographed by the Hubble space telescope, reveal to us that our universe is much bigger than we had originally thought and that there are billions, if not quadrillions of galaxies swirling around in the backdrop of the heavens. Little less than 50 years ago, we did not know about this. We slowly discover that we live in one of the billions, if not quadrillions of galaxies floating or dancing in the infinite space. The actual numbers of our galaxies is a mind-boggling mystery because we can not understand how these billions and billions of them dance on their own in the celestial abyss.
With the help of Hubble space telescope, we can peer inside the workshop of God and learn more of His divine mystery. The more we study and explore our universe, the more mind-baffling it becomes for us to even try to understand the greatness of the universe and to comprehend the creation of God, too. It is almost impossible for us to understand God because we could barely understand our own universe. God and our universe are becoming increasingly similar. God and His creation speak of and complement one another.
Science tells us that Hubble space telescope can see about one percent of our universe. This means we cannot see the other 99% of our own universe, mostly because our own universe is so vastly and incalculably gigantic, if not monstrously infinite. It is so huge that no science can ever measure it. Science tells us that even the light that travels at the speed of about 186,282 miles per second can not reach the end of the universe, if there is one, and then to bounce the light back to its source. The light just travels on and on infinitely and may never reach the destination of its lonely journey because there may be no edge in the universe. Simply put, our universe is so big that the word, “big” collapses in its meaning or significance. Nothing can best define our universe; much less for our God.
Therefore, we as human beings are stumped by the celestial panoply of the vastness of our universe and the numbers of visible and invisible galaxies waltzing everywhere. We fall down to our knees in amazement and wonderment. We feebly struggle to see God and try to understand the mystery of the Godhead. Inasmuch as we try to understand the mystery of God, we feel we are not going anywhere. The pervading mystery of Godhead is so overwhelming for us to grasp and put a hold on it. It is like trying to hold water in our hands! When we compare the greatness of God and our own small stature, we slowly and reluctantly accept the fact that is we are just a walking bag of atoms mixed mostly with water and trace minerals.
This is the truth of our bodies. We are not infinite or super like God. No matter how great our faith is, we can never fully appreciate the greatness of God, for God is incalculably infinite. The more we try to catch up with the greatness of God in our faith and adoration while admiring the infinite space, the less we become certain of anything. Little by little, we get lost in the mystery of God. As we approach our death, we have nothing to hope for except in the infinite mercy of God who will not forget us in our wretchedness with all of our bodily illness, weakness and diminishing strength. Nothing in the universe makes sense for us except in the gift of the divine mercy of God. The divine mercy of God is as gargantuan as the vastness of our infinite space. Psalm 136 tells us of the comforting words: “His mercy is everlasting.” We will live and exist, hopefully, for ever, because God is infinitesimally merciful and good. Without God, we will become dust and float forever in the dark abyss of the infinite space.
Let’s recall the words of St. John the Baptist when Jesus came to Him for baptism in River Jordan, “He must increase while I decrease.” We need to ask ourselves what John the Baptist meant by these words, “He must increase while I decrease.” John the Baptist wanted to tell us that God must become bigger in our relationship with Him. Very often, in our ego, we think that we are bigger than everyone else, even God and as a result we sin. We sin because we often think that we are greater than God and therefore we need not to fear God. We need to change the way we think about ourselves and our own magnanimity. God is by far bigger than us, not vice versa. Our faith in God must increase more as each day passes. Our stubborn dependence on our feeble power and reason must decrease. Our thoughts of our own magnificence and personal glory must decrease. Little by little, the shallow thoughts of our own invincibility, our own supremacy and our super ego must yield to the magnificence of God’s greatness and infinite love. Our faith, if genuine, will slowly chisel away our stubborn thoughts and convictions of our own superiority. With time and humility, we will surrender ourselves to the divine truth that God is greater than we actually are. This will be our redemption.
“He must increase while I decrease.” The more you reflect on these words of wisdom from John the Baptist, the more you will realize how important it is for you to increase your love and hope in God more than in yourselves. Inasmuch the universe is greater than us, so is God. Then, how can we who believe in the existence of God render Him a most fitting praise that is pleasing to Him when we are as small as tiny atoms in comparison to His greatness? Really, there is nothing much you can do to please Him when we are truly so small in comparison akin to an ant trying to please a human being while looking up at him from the sidewalk. Do not despair! King David who wrote the Psalms teaches us that in spite of our sinfulness and wretchedness, we can always sing praises to God with all of our mind, our soul and our strength. All we can do is to tell God how great He is. We can do no less. As St. Augustine once said, “Singing is praying twice!” In our humility and lowliness, we can sing this beautiful song: “How Great Thou Art!” and find redemption in His divine mercy:
“Then sing my soul, my savior, God to thee! How great thou art, how great thou art, then sing my soul, my Savior, God to thee. How great thou art…how great thou art…”