God is great, awesome, magnificent
The heavens declare the glory of God;
the firmament proclaims the works of his hands. (Psalm 19:1)
All of creation recognizes and declares the grandeur of God. The sea ebbs and flows as it is pulled and drawn by the moon according to the laws God has established. Its persistent lapping at the shore wears down the hardest of stone in a way reminiscent of how God’s never ending mercy wears away at the hardened hearts of sinners. Or perhaps you’ve driven by a field when, suddenly, a flock of sparrows erupts from the ground and flies away. The individual birds marvelously fly as a single flock that shows a little of how many can at the same time be one. They hint at the mystery of the Trinity.
Everything God has made necessarily proclaims His great power through its very being…And then there’s man. As persons, we are capable of praising God in a much more dynamic way through our intellect and will. But because we are fallen creatures, the vices of pride and despair can prevent us from freely giving glory to God. We can proudly deny and refuse to acknowledge that God is the fount and source of all that we are and all that we have. In our weakness, we can also forget God’s almighty power, and despair of ever overcoming our daily temptations. However, God never ceases to remind both the proud and the despairing man of his divine grandeur. He does this through the grandeur of His creation.
To the proud man, the marvelous splendor of creation is a humbling reminder of the absolute supremacy of God. The unexplored vastness of the universe floods man with the knowledge that he himself is not the omniscient God. Even if man is silent and fails to praise God, the very stones of the Earth cry out His glory (Luke 19:37-40).
But for those who despair that they have not the strength to make it to heaven, the breathtaking magnificence of the created world can be a sign of hope. The Catholic faith issues an incredibly daunting challenge in the universal call to holiness. Jesus says, “Be perfect therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” If we had no help, despair would not be an inappropriate reaction. But our help is in the name of the Lord who made heaven and earth. And so Jesus tells us further, “For human beings this is impossible, but for God all things are possible” (Matthew 19:26).
Looking at the mighty works God has wrought in creation, we can have true humility and confidence that we can do all things through him who strengthens us (Philippians 4:13). Although we know that we cannot become saints on our own merits, we can have confidence in a God who is mighty enough to lead us to heaven.
Image: David Johnson, Upper Twin Lakes in the Colorado Rockies.