Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways! – Romans 11:33
We live in an age where knowledge is easily accessible. What took our ancestors years of study to know, we have at our fingertips through a simple Google search. Rather than learning through trial and error, we can find instructions for pretty much anything on YouTube. And this is a great blessing!
But recently on St. Joseph’s Workshop, Fr. Matthew Spencer, OSJ reflected on whether our age of quick knowledge can lead us to a lesser appreciation of – or even a frustration with – the mysteries of God. Fr. Matthew said:
“We want to penetrate all of the mysteries of God’s plan. Don’t we? We live in a society and a world that has become accustomed, that has become almost self-righteous, in its appreciation of knowledge. As if we own it, we deserve to know how things work.
And I love to know things work! If I had more time, I would watch YouTube videos on how this works, and how that works. It wouldn’t make me a better Christian, per se, it would just make me appreciate all the things in the world. It would make my homilies a little more interesting.
The point is that most of us don’t have time to figure out how all of these different things work in the world. But we feel like we should know. We feel like we should be able to penetrate the mysteries that the world presents to us.
But we live in this time without realizing there is so much more we don’t know than we do know. And I’m grateful to God that He makes the world intelligible. Creation is ordered the way it is because God Himself loves order, and structure, and intelligibility. And thanks be to God for that, because there is rationality and reason in the world that we can use to discern and discover God all the more.
It’s one of the beautiful things about our Catholic faith, that reason and faith go hand in hand. They are not opposed to each other. They are complementary, and one can’t replace the other.
But the danger of the rationality of the world, and the increasing acceleration of us understanding and knowing the world, is that we think somehow it is owed to us. And then we take that principle and we apply it to the spiritual life, and the workings of God.
There are many things about God’s plan that I am never going to know, at least this side of heaven. And I’m going to spend an eternity pondering the beauty of His plan overall. From the tiniest details to the largest physical, astronomical things we could explore, we will be pondering how the universe works and how God has created us.
And we can be OK with that this side of heaven. I hope that you realize that God as mystery is OK. It’s OK. And little by little we start to penetrate more and more the workings that He has in our hearts, but there will always be things that will be difficult for us to grasp.
Why does He allow pain in my life? Why is there struggle? Why do things not always go according to the way I want, and why does God sometimes seem to not answer my prayers? All of these can be mysterious, confounding.
But maybe there is a reminder that we don’t always know how the Kingdom of God will grow. We don’t always know how our spiritual lives will grow. But we do know that it happens, and with God’s grace we can be fruitful, we can be faithful, and we can give ourselves totally and freely to the Lord. We can love our neighbor, and invite him or her into the same relationship.
I find that consoling. To realize that I don’t have to understand all of God’s workings to know that He still loves me, will still care for me, and still lead me to peaceful waters by His side at the end of my life. Maybe the mystery of the Kingdom is something we will appreciate one day, even as we plumb its depths in eternity.”
Listen to the full reflection below:
St. Joseph’s Workshop with Father Matthew Spencer airs weekdays at 7:00 p.m. Eastern/4:00 p.m. Pacific on Relevant Radio®