23 Jul 2015
For ages, children have wondered how Santa Claus could get around to all those houses in one night. And here’s the answer: Because Santa Claus is so big. And I don’t mean big as in rotund; I mean his spirit is big—it’s so vast that he’s bigger than the universe; he’s bigger than our imagination. And because he’s so big, he can get into every nook and cranny of every house just like that—in one felled swoop.
And I suppose that’s maybe like a thunderstorm. How do we here in Appleton feel the same rain—at the same time—as somebody down in Milwaukee? Well, because the storm that’s passing through is just that big. Or when the sun is shining, how do I feel the same sunshine—at the same time—as my friend who lives 600 miles away? Well, because the sun is just that big.
The “littleness” of our lives is affected by these “big” things in our lives. Of course, the “biggest” thing in our life is God, the Holy Trinity. God is bigger than Santa Claus, broader than the broadest storm, and more brilliant than the sun. God is so vast that when he came down on Mount Sinai, it was only fitting that he should’ve come in the form of a huge cloud, with lightning and trumpet blasts. God is “big.”
And it makes sense, then, why to some people’s ears, the teachings of Jesus are hard to understand. After all, he’s trying to speak of the vastness of God and the divine life in our very small, limited human language. And to those people who aren’t open to the vastness of who God is and what he has to offer, to those people Jesus speaks in parables. He doesn’t mean to confuse people; they’re just not open to what he has to say. Their minds are too focused on life in the world to even consider that there’s something much bigger going on.
But to those of us who are open to the vastness of God, to the transcendence and the mystery of God, what Jesus says is always meaningful—even if we don’t understand entirely what he’s saying. When we at least realize how big God is, then we can also see how close God can be to us, and can affect our daily lives. Just like that thunderstorm, or the rays of the sun, or even Santa Claus, Jesus is our most intimate Friend—he seeps into our lives, and warms each of us with his light, and is kind and generous to each of us because he is so “big.”
He wants to be close to us, and he wants us to share in his greatness. At Mass, there’s a little moment when the Priest mixes the wine and water. And the prayer he says is: “By the mystery of this water and wine, may we come to share in the divinity of Christ as he humbled himself to share in our humanity.”
Jesus shares in our “littleness” here on earth, so that we can share in his greatness with the Father today and in heaven. But first, of course, it’s important to realize that God is big: bigger than Santa Claus, bigger than the biggest thunderstorm, brighter than the sun. God is too vast and wise and beautiful and powerful to put into words. But Jesus tries.
And so, when you hear Jesus speak to you in Scripture or in prayer, or in music or art or poetry, and you don’t understand, just be patient with it. He’s trying to open you up to a world that’s bigger than what we know here on earth. Stick with it, and stick with him. And that full height and depth and breadth of God will affect your life, today and forever.