With the passing of Ronald Reagan this weekend, it seems an era has come to an end. Not only was he the U.S. President who lived the longest life, but in many ways he was venerated as a kind of grandfather figure. Like Pope John Paul he demonstrates that sometimes ones greatest contribution can be during what are normally "retirement" years - and years of physical decline. His passing reminds us of the transitory nature of human life – and of human history.
In a much different vein, some of my friends saw a movie which hinges on the transitory nature of the earth itself. My friends admitted the movie is not a great work of art, but it did hold their attention. It is titled The Day After Tomorrow. The movie is about a new Ice Age suddenly falling on the earth. For example, the Puget Sound freezes over and the residents of Washington State have to flee to Mexico to avoid being frozen alive. The plot is a little preposterous, but my friends said they enjoyed it. It seems everyone likes a good disaster movie. Part of the reason is that we know that not only our lives will come to an end, but this world will also come to an end.
If that is the case, What will remain? What will last? We glimpse the answer this Sunday: In order to know what will exist after the world ends, we must ask what existed before it began. In our reading from Proverbs, the “wisdom of God” states: “When the Lord established the heavens I was there…” (8:27) In lovely poetic language, wisdom describes how the Creator made firm the skies and set limits of the seas.
Scientists today speak about a fine-tuned universe.* Minute variations in physical forces would cause the universe to fold in on itself or would render impossible the formation of elements such as hydrogen. According to these speculations, even the forces, which allow the emergence of life, had to be set in the initial split seconds of the Big Bang.
These past years Seattleites have observed the construction of our new central library. At first it seemed like such a strange design, but the more you look at it, the more a certain beauty and elegance comes through. And while the design initially appeared quite extravagance, it turns out to be well suited to the purposes of a library.
The building itself depends on something you cannot now see. Before they began the above ground structure, the workers spent many months digging a deep hole and laying the foundations. Without all that work, the library would not have water, warmth and energy – and it would easily collapse.
It was an eccentric Dutchman who conceived the design for Seattle’s library – but he cannot hold a candle to the architect of the cosmos. The psalmist marvels at the intricacy and expanse of the heavens, then asks, what is man in comparison to such grandeur? The answer is “nothing” – unless he has some connection to the Designer.
Today Jesus tells us that the very Wisdom of God, the Spirit of Truth, will overcome us. By him we will enter that relationship from which the world originated: “Everything that the Father has is mine.” (Jn 16:15) The Holy Spirit will “declare” this truth to us. He was there – and he alone can bring us into that eternal union of Father and Son.
*"Our universe seems to be fine-tuned (for intelligent life), because any small changes in the 20 or so physical constants would make it very different, and presumably not hospitable to intelligent life. For example, stars would not be able to burn hydrogen and helium if the electric charge of the electron had been only slightly different. So our sun would not be able to give us the energy that we need." See also: Do Anthropic Coincidences Require Explanation?
From Archives (Trinity Sunday - Year C):
Seapadre Homilies: Cycle A, Cycle B, Cycle C
Bulletin (Diversity & Unity, Mark Shea, Monsignor Kelly)
Archbishop O'Malley Targeted
Beatification for Emperor Karl, Anne Emmerich
Chicago Cardinal George's Remarks to the Pope: Church's Ability to Evangelize Is Diminished (well worth reading)
Deacon Keith A. Fournier on Barry Lynn's attack on Bishop Sheridan
Bishop Olmstead Suspends Dissenting Priest (I studied with the new bishop of Phoenix. I pray for him and all our bishops every day. Please do the same.)
Pope's Words to President Bush
Bulletin (St. Mary's Parish)
my bulletin column
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Parish Picture Album
MBC - Mary Bloom Center, Puno, Peru
(new, professional website)