by Deacon Tony Zimmerman
Astronomers estimate that the observable universe extends 46.5 billion light years from one end to the other. And who knows what lies beyond, if anything?
It is hard to imagine. Despite its huge size, Sunday’s first reading — Wis 11:22 – 12:2 — points out that the universe is as nothing, compared to its Creator.
By contrasting the vastness of the universe with its Creator, the Book of Wisdom seeks to impress us with God’s greatness: “Before the Lordthe whole universe is as a grain from a balance or a drop of morning dew come down upon the earth.”
The drop of morning dew not only is tiny, it is also short-lived. Its fleeting existence contrasts with God’s eternity. God is without beginning or end.
Despite the huge difference between the Creator and creation, God still loves us: “For you love all things that are and loathe nothing that you have made; for what you hated, you would not have fashioned.”
This affirmation of God’s love for creation builds upon the observation that God repeatedly made during the act of creation: “God saw how good it was” (Gn 1:10).
Each time that God created something, God commented on how good it was.
God’s love for creation naturally leads to mercy, to forgiveness for our imperfection and faults: “But you spare all things, because they are yours, O Lordand lover of souls.”
When God corrects us, it is not out of vengeance or a desire to punish but, rather, to lead us to improvement: “Therefore you rebuke offenders little by little, warn them and remind them of the sins they are committing, that they may abandon their wickedness and believe in you, O Lord!”
The author of the Book of Wisdom, probably a Jewish scholar living in Alexandria Egypt, writes only about 50 years before the birth of Christ. It may well have been the last book of the Old Testament to be written.
His emphasis upon God’s love is a fitting preparation for the imminent coming of the Messiah: “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son” (Jn 3:16).
The mystery of the Incarnation bridges the huge gap between the Creator and creation that the Book of Wisdom points to. The Creator of the universe is born as a helpless infant in Bethlehem. Jesus Christ brings us God’s love.
And that is the greatest wisdom of all.