On the Greatness of God and Our Limited Vision by Monsignor Ferrarese

As long as I am the center of my tiny world, it is not hard to imagine God being very interested in everything I do. This view is the product, not of an expansive understanding of God, but one of a diminished view of the Godhead.

But sometimes I see that I am only a small part of the immense universe, and the idea of a personal and interested God becomes hard to sustain.

Whenever I fly somewhere, I look out from the plane window and see the vastness of what is down on earth. Flying helps me detach from a limited vision of things and, as I see the many houses and towns, I imagine all the people down there with their stories and their fears and their hopes, and I wonder how can any being, even God, know and be involved in so many lives at one time. When I multiply my vision by the thousands and the millions and realize that is only the earth, and that our world is just a tiny speck in the universe, I wonder whether our vision of God is just wishful thinking.

And that is just human lives! Think of the trillions of insects on this planet. Could God sustain them and keep giving them their being? Since God is constantly creating in the sustaining of all creatures in existence, the Divinity is aware of every movement of every insect. He sustains every leaf on every tree. He is involved in every dream that very person is having. How can this be possible?

This is where we smack into the smallness of who we are and that God’s greatness is beyond our abilities to comprehend. We can do only one thing at a time (maybe two!), but this Being we call God has incalculable power and is not limited at all. We don’t even have the language to use that can barely approach the reality of the Godhead.

Did you ever try to explain what pizza is to a baby still in her Mother’s womb? I know, this sounds silly; but think of what life is outside the womb: the colors, the music, the varied creation: plants, animals, sunsets and coffee!  The wonders all around us are so many. Now think of that baby in the womb. She or he has no words to describe anything, cannot see, and so has no concept of what a thing is other than what she or he feels as it floats in the amniotic fluid. Your words about a pizza would sound like noise, your attempt to explain how pizza tastes would be  incomprehensible even if the baby understood your words since the baby has never tasted anything. That child in the womb is very limited in understanding and can have not even the slightest concept of what lies outside the womb.

We are that baby when we try to understand how great God is. We don’t have the knowledge or the experience to even imagine what God can and cannot do. God must find our negations about Him a little funny, since we cannot imagine how He can ‘run’ the world when He is in fact ‘running’ the universe which makes this world seem like a speck of dust. When we say God is omnipotent, we have to realize our poverty in understanding what a vast expanse that word covers!

We have to come to the point where we realize that what we have in mind when we say that God is ‘omnipotent’ is completely inadequate to the reality it signifies. We, in fact, do not have the conceptual or verbal capacity to come to terms with what the word ‘omnipotent’ or ‘all-powerful’ actually and concretely mean. So we have to admit that, when it comes to imagining or thinking about this Being called God, anything we say about Him (including gender-specific pronouns) is at best not helpful or at worst deliberately obscuring.

St. Thomas warned in his Summa Theologiae that we can only say what God is not. Anything positive about God will be miserably off-the-mark and practically meaningless.

So we are left face-to-face with Mystery: inexplicable, transcendent and unknown. What is this thing called God? Can we even imagine something of such power and scope? And when we say that the ‘what’ is a ‘who’ and that ‘Who’ knows the name of every creature in the universe, and the exact location of every atom in my body, was present at my birth and is already present at the transformation we  ‘my death’, which of us can live with this frightening and amazing truth?

The only thing we can do before the greatness of God is stand in humble silence. The only words possible before this great God that loves us with a fervor and an intensity we cannot imagine is “have mercy on me!”

Our minds are incapable of understanding even a little of the awesome power of this Great God who deigns to love this poor creature that I am. My only claim to fame is that I was made by this Great Being and am loved by this Great Being and that this Great Being gives me the freedom to return that love or to refuse it.

To accept God’s love is Heaven. To refuse God’s love is Hell.

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