One sentence I heard this summer caused me to do a lot of thinking. The comment wouldn’t make much sense out of context, but the progression of thoughts and discoveries it inspired are what I want to share. Stick with me. This is a lot of thoughts coming together.
We human beings have a habit of defining everything. Things have to make sense. Every question must have an answer. Weigh it, measure it, count it!
Look at our world. It’s pretty awesome, from the tiniest cells to the largest trees, mountains, oceans, and beyond the earth out into space. It is an understatement to say there is a lot to discover. If you’ve got some minutes, watch this video and get a sense of how vast and amazing our universe is. It’s old and cheesy, but totes awesome bro. (We even have to define the words we make up- urban dictionary.)
Scientists analyze everything. There is someone, or many people, studying, defining, quantifying, or hypothesizing everything. This is not a bad thing. God gave us minds with incredible capabilities. It would be wrong not to use the gifts and abilities God has blessed us with.
This same desire, the same habit of defining comes into faith as well. We want to know the truth. We want the truth to be concise and in a language we can understand. We have the Bible. We have the Catechism of the Catholic Church. We have thousands upon thousands of books by smart people, holy people, trying to put the truth down in words. They do a decent job, and what they offer helps us understand, but even if I read every book, by every saint, study every word of scripture and know it all by heart, I would still be lacking. Why is that?
Because truth cannot be conquered. The world – all that is in it: us, all creatures, mountains and hills, oceans, stars, planets, solar systems – is all finite. As large as it may seem, there is an end to it. Given enough time, humanity could count all the stars and catalogue every living thing on the earth.
The truth, is not an answer or a definition. It is Jesus Christ. “I am the way and the truth and the life” (Jn 14:6).
He is God, and He is man. We must get to know Him. If you want to know the truth, get to know Jesus. We must not allow ourselves to think that we can know it all.
A man does not marry because he knows everything about a woman. But, within marriage two people can come to know each other very well. Still, when that man dies, he will not know his wife perfectly. Every day, though, if he loved well, he shared himself and came to know her better.
Let’s not be concerned with knowing everything. Faith is not about knowing it all, or even believing it all. Let’s not be afraid of not knowing. Let’s not be afraid of mystery. We must trust that Christ is who He says He is and strive to know Him better each day. Faith is a journey to knowing Christ perfectly. As we journey in faith, Christ teaches us to believe and understand more and more. The beauty of the journey is that it never ends. Even heaven, our ultimate end if we remain with Christ, is not an end. As Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI puts it, “It would be like plunging into the ocean of infinite love…” (Spe Salvi paragraph 12 if you want to read it in context).
We cannot come to know another person perfectly in our lifetime, and we should not expect to know Christ perfectly either. The idea of knowing Jesus, who is infinite truth, inspires me every day. Let that journey inspire you also. Do not be afraid of not knowing. Let yourself be amazed by the mystery.