By: Deacon Alex Barbieri
A few weeks ago, I found myself in a rare position at home: alone in my house (well, me and the pets), with an hour or so to spare, and full decision-making ability over the TV remote control. An opportunity that in my household, only comes around a couple of times each year. Unfortunately for me, this was just prior to college football season gearing up, and I didn’t have that much time to devote – so I was relegated to searching through the various streaming platforms to find an intriguing option. Finally, something caught my eye: UFOs and outer space. Huhn. Let’s give it a shot.
I find it interesting, because as anyone who grew up in the United States in a time when all of that extra terrestrial talk was clandestine, the fact that there are now US Congressional hearings on the topic, is like a real-life science fiction movie playing out.
My focus for this reflection is not on UFOs or what our tax dollars are being used for in the halls of Congress…those are very different reflection topics for another time…But, about 15 minutes into the episode I was struck by something that a “leading scientist” and researcher from a prominent national institution said. He was talking about the vastness of space and the universe, and multiverses (the supposed universes beyond our universe), and the so-called “Big Bang Theory.” And he made a statement that, regardless of exactly how the universe started, at some point, some supreme being must have created the masses and material that comprised the Big Bang in order to kick start the universe and, eventually lead to life as we know it. A scientist admitting that a “supreme being” created the masses that put the wheels in motion for the universe and eventually life? I was not expecting to hear that! Suddenly my hour investment in a random entertainment program was beginning to pay off.
The scientist’s statement reminded me of a talk I heard from Cardinal Timothy Dolan, the Archbishop of New York City, who once said that most people, even those who are not religious, do acknowledge that there is Supernatural Creator of the Universe, a.k.a. God. And that might be a great starting point. A great starting point for any conversation with anyone who doubts there is a God.
It’s also a good starting point for Catholics as well. For us as believers to stop and think that the observable universe is 95 billion light years in diameter, and that God created all of it: “In the beginning, when God created the heavens and the earth” (Genesis 1:1). But at the same time, that same God that created the heavens (the observable universe and whatever else may be beyond that), He also “numbers the stars and gives to all of them their names” (Psalm 147:4) cares for even the birds in the air (Matthew 6:26), and “even the hairs on your head have all been counted” (Luke 12:7) by God. Not just your head and my head, but every head of all 7.89 billion people in the world today.
Now, the next thing as Catholics to reflect upon is that same Creator, God, loves you, and the people you love and care for the most, that he wants a friendship with you. He loves us so much, that He became human for us: Jesus. “He was in the beginning with God…And the Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us” (John 1:2,14).
Some Christians believe that they can only find Jesus through Sacred Scripture and prayer. They think their relationship with Christ can only be built in those two dimensions. But as Catholics, we are blessed to know that a relationship with Christ, with the creator of the universe, has that added dimension of being alive even today through the Eucharist. There is something so special, so powerful, so live giving and life transforming about opening our hearts to allow Christ to enter into us every time we receive the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus through either Sacred Host or the Precious Blood, (what we call the “species”) at Mass.
Additionally, there is something so healing, so redeeming, so peaceful, so reassuring about entering into a church or chapel and seeing that red candle lit, signifying that Jesus is present in the tabernacle and knowing that we can sit down and have a conversation with Him. With Jesus. With the Creator of the Universe. Who knows every hair on our head. Every bird in the air. Every star in the sky.
He longs to enter into our hearts, our daily lives. Have a conversation with us. Have a deeper friendship with us.
This week, if you haven’t made plans for just you and Jesus to spend some time together. Maybe give it a chance. After all, He created the biggest thing out there: a universe that’s 95 billion light years long. He might be able to help you, too!