In our society, it seems that everything has to be bigger or the greatest. “More is more,” as they say. But the truth is this: size is not really that important.
If we want to consider something really big, all we need do is think of the universe. It’s always been a source of wonderment for humanity. Today, with telescopes, we are privileged to see immense stars and galaxies. Scientists have figured out that the universe is composed of more than 100 billion galaxies—each having between 100 and 200 billion stars!
And what’s more: the universe has been around for a very long time. We are sure the beginning of the universe started around 13 billion years ago. And we know the universe is still expanding. Of course, this does not explain how it began. People of faith believe that God is the cause of all that we see, either directly or indirectly. It’s no wonder that we are filled with awe at what is above us. The Psalm said it beautifully: “The heavens proclaim the glory of God.”
One Life, Infinite Possibilities
Size is not that important, truly. In fact, all the matter, power, and energy in the universe are nothing compared to one tiny human zygote, which we know measures about one-hundredth of an inch—barely visible to the naked eye.
If size is what matters, then it is no contest between that zygote and the universe. But it’s what is in that tiny creation of God’s that trumps the universe as far as importance goes. Again, the universe has been expanding for over 13 billion years. But in just nine months, that almost invisible zygote will enter the world as a baby. And the universe—for all of its power and size—cannot hold a candle to the touch of a baby’s skin or a smile that shines from his or her face.
But the difference is that the moment that zygote came into existence, he or she was and always will be the “image and likeness of God.” And the infant has the potential to do things that are impossible for the billions of stars and galaxies in the universe: he or she has the capacity to love and to forgive. The magnificent universe that can overwhelm us by its grandeur pales in comparison to a single human person made in God’s image and likeness. Case closed.
Who among us would ever think of exchanging a newborn infant for the universe? After all, a tiny infant fits so nicely in our arms!
Dear Friar Jeremy: Thank you for your recent E-spiration about Pope Francis and Thomas Merton. Now I’m curious to learn more about him! He was obviously a man of deep faith and prayer. Sue
A: Dear Sue: I’m glad you are curious to learn more about Merton. He was a deep, prayerful, searching man with much to share. As a writer, poet, and artist, he had the talent to share himself and his contemplation. We have his books, journals, and letters from him. Bless you and your spiritual curiosity! Friar Jeremy
Dear Friar Jeremy: Wow! What a wonderful E-spiration! I have always admired Thomas Merton: he is a role model for those who want a simpler, more prayerful life. John
A: Dear John: As you say, Merton is a role model for living a simpler, more prayerful life—and in many other ways. He is an example of listening to the Spirit, being open to grow, and being passionate for peace and justice in all areas. May we all be graced with spiritual energy and creativity like he had! Thanks for writing! Friar Jeremy