GOD THE OMNISCIENT, OMNIPRESENT, OMNIPOTENT, AND ALL-WISE GOD

"Great is the Lord,  and greatly to be praised, and of His greatness there is no end" (Ps.144:3).-- "For in Him we live, and move and are" (Acts 17:28).-- "Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and of the knowledge of God! How incomprehensible are His judgments, and how unsearchable His ways are!" (Rom. 11:33-34).

Some years ago, a pastor asked the children in Catechism: "Where is God?"

Immediately a little girl got up and answered: "God is everywhere."

As a further test, the good pastor inquired from the little girl: "Is God in the church?"

"Yes."

"In your barn?"

"Yes."

"In your attic?"

"Yes."

"In your cellar?"

"No!"

"Well," said the pastor, "You told me God was everywhere, did you not?"

"Yes" she replied once more.

"Then why is He not in the celllar?"

"Because we haven't got one," came back her quick reply.

This little story, my friends, brings out the fact that even little children know the meaning of the words, "Omnipresence of God"--that is, God is everywhere. We shall devote this discourse to the consideration of God's omnipresence, His omnipotence, His omniscience and His divine wisdom. In other words, God is everywhere, all-powerful, all-knowing and all-wise.

(O Jesus, assist us with Thy grace!)

God is Omnipresent.--Only God can be everywhere, universally present.  All living creatures can be bodily present only in one place at a time. While I am speaking to you here in church, I cannot at the same time be in my study. Should anyone be seen in several places apart at the same identical moment, it would be an exceptional phenomenon. We call it bilocation. In the Lives of the Saints we find a few such cases recorded. But this can happen only by divine intervention. St. Francis furnishes one such example. Being unavoidably detained in one place, he nevertheless appeared in another distant place simultaneously at the stipulated time. But only God is omnipresent; which means simultaneously present everywhere, in all places, in heaven and on earth.

In sacred Scripture, holy Job and the royal prophet, David seem  to vie with each other in describing and praising, in sublime language, the omnipresence of God. King David describes a soul flying from the face of God and yet meeting Him everywhere: "If I ascend into heaven, Thou art there; if I descend into Hell, Thou art present; if I take my wings early in the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there also shall Thy hand lead me, Thy right hand shall hold me" (Ps.138:8). "Great is the Lord, and of His greatness, there is no end" (Ps.144:3).

In heaven, on earth, and even in hell, everywhere the soul encounters the ever-present God. In hell too? Yes, God is present even in hell. For, says holy Job. "He higher than heaven and deeper than hell; the measure of Him is longer than the earth and broader than the sea" (11:8). As God, He does not suffer in hell; but He is there in His power and justice; He is everywhere, because His greatness is without limit. But how is God present in all things? He is present either in His substance, in His knowledge in His power, in His wisdom, or, in man, by His grace.

God is present in His substance. "In Him we live and move and are" declares the Holy Scripture (Acts.17:28). Everywhere present are His whole indivisable Godhead, His goodness and love, His mercy and justice, His wisdom and power, His entire nature and substance. The same God who is in heaven, the same who created the earth and governs it, is with us all. In heaven God is visibly present to the blessed; outside of heaven, He is present in His spiritual substance, yet distinct from, and independent of all other creatures whatsoever.

God is present by His knowledge of omniscience. He sees everything and knows everything that takes place, nothing escaping Him. Do you recall the dialogue between Jesus and the Samaritan woman at Jacob's well? After she had asked for the "living waters" which Jesus had promised her, Christ suggested that she call her husband. She replied: "I have no husband." Jesus answers: "Thou hast said well: 'I have no husband.' For thou hast had five husbands; and he whom thou now hast, is not thy husband. This thou hast said truly." In astonishment, the woman hastened back to the city, exclaiming: "Come, and see a man who hast told me all things whatsoever I have done. Is not he the Christ?" (John.4:17-29). 

God is omniscient. The past, as well as the future, is one continuous present with God. Yes, there are no sufferings or miseries, no struggles or temptations, no thought or desire, no word or sin, and the least good or bad in man, that remains hidden from God. "The eyes of the Lord, in every place, behold the good and evil" (Prov.15:3). Overpowered by this thought, King David cries out: "Whither shall I go from Thy spirit, or whither shall I fly from Thy face?" (Ps.138:7).

God is present in His infinite wisdom. "O the depth of the riches of the wisdom and the knowledge of God," exclaims St. Paul (Rom.11:33). God's knowledge and wisdom "reacheth therefore from end to end mightily, and ordereth all things so that they shall fulfill His eternal designs. "The eyes of the Lord are far brighter than the sun, beholding round about all the ways of men, and the bottom of the deep, and looking into the hearts of men, into the most hidden parts" (Ecclus.23:28).

God's omniscience or wisdom is not predestination. But this does not mean that man is obliged to forego his freedom of action and self-determination. No one is forced to do good or do evil. Ah, no, to believe thus would be fundamentally wrong. The doctrine of predestination is false. From eternity, God has decreed to protect the liberty and freedom of the will. Like God, we too can foresee that, if anybody takes poison, he will die. But my knowing it does not force the other to take poison. Or, again, a mirror shows the movements that we make before it. The mirror does not cause our free and deliberate movements; it only shows them because we make them. In somewhat a similar manner, does God's omniscience serve as a world mirror, reflecting therein from all eternity all human events.

God is present everywhere by His power or omnipresence. He not only sees and knows that takes place in creatures, but He gives to them also their very existence, life and strength; and He preserves them as long as His wisdom decrees the limit of their existence. "In Him we live and move and are." If God withheld only for a moment His omnipotent presence, all creatures, everything, will sink again into nothingness from which He called them into being. 

Hence, praising the Lord, King David adds: "All expect of Thee that Thou give them food in season. What Thou givest to them, they shall gather up; when Thou openest Thy hand, they shall be filled with good. But if Thou turnest away Thy face, they shall be troubled; Thou shalt take away their breath, and they shall fail, and shall return to their dust" (Ps.103:27).

God is present by His grace in those of us who are without mortal sin. He is in the souls of the just with this special aid by which we perform those meritorious and worthy works that have heaven for their goal. "He that abideth in charity," says St. John, "abideth in God, and God in him" (1 John.4:16). Therefore, in man, God, by His omnipresence, not only preserves the life of the body, as He does in all other creatures, but by His grace He gives and preserves the life of the soul and the works of love. Grace, in other words, is to the soul what the soul is to the body. Grace makes us godly; it makes us God-like. Through grace we become children of God and heirs of heaven.

Now, my friends, in order to make these thoughts a little more comprehensive and real, let us study God's omnipresence, His power, His knowledge and His wisdom in the light of creation. For, says St. Paul, "the invisible things of Him, from the creation of the world, are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made; His eternal power also, and divinity" (Rom.1:29).

The Universe.--Let us begin with the firmament. When thinking of God, we automatically turn our thoughts upwards, heavenwards. There, in the firmament, we are confronted with a world of wonders that is astounding, even with the limited means whereby we have been able to acquire facts about the astronomical kingdom. With the aid of the telescope, the human eye has already detected, and scholars have catalogued, more than 35,00,00,000 planets and stars in the firmament. Through mathematical formulas, astronomers and scientists have discovered means for measuring the distance from earth and the size of these heavenly bodies. We have been succeeded in measuring the speed with which many of them are hurtled through space. Just listen to some of these startling facts.

The moon is our next-door neighbor, being removed only 2,40.000 miles from our earth. The moon is much smaller than our earth, with an area about equal to that of North and South America. The moon is nothing but a dead cinder, possessing neither light nor heat of her own. Her light is but a reflection from that of the sun. This reflection illumines the earth at regular intervals. Furthermore, the moon serves a useful purpose in so far as her power of attraction purifies the oceans and prevents them from becoming stagnant.

Surprising to many is the fact that our earth is one of the smallest of the planets. The earth measures 25,000 miles in circumference and about 8,000 miles in diameter. The planet Uranus measures 32,000 miles through the center, Neptune 35,000 miles and Saturn 74,000 miles in diameter. But the greatest luminary of all in our system is the sun, 9,30,00,000 miles distant from the earth. The sun is 3,18,000 times larger than our globe, measuring 8,50,000 miles in diameter. Were the sun a hollow globe, we could put 13,00,000 earths inside of it. And yet, astronomers tell us that the sun is much smaller than many of our fixed stars, which, on account of their vast distances from our earth, appear so tiny. Their light, too, is much dimmer than that of the sun, owing to their distance from the earth.

You may get an idea of the distance of some of these stars when you realize that light travels 1,86,000 miles per second. Yet we know that it requires about four years for the light of the nearest star to reach the earth. The light of the farthest star, whose distance is known, requires at least 200 years to reach our eye. Many of these stars must have existed since the time of creation; and yet new stars are just now appearing, and the light of untold others have not reached us yet. Yes, that galaxy of stars can truthfully be called, in the words of Agnes M. Clerke, "the hem of the robe of the Most High."

Now, listen to the speed with which we and the other planets are traveling through space. You have some idea what sixty miles per hour means. Our earth flies through space,  on its course around the sun, at the rate of 110 miles a minute; that is, 75 times as fast as a cannon ball travels. In other words, we are traveling around the sun at the rate of about 10,00,000 miles per day. And yet the earth is always on time, never a single moment too early or too late. Night follows day, and the seasons follow each other in regular order, with a precision as accurate as any clock man has ever invented. 

Now, picture to yourselves those millions of stars and planets, many never yet detected by the human eye, perched in the firmament, traveling at such a tremendous speed, without collision or disorder, and then attempt to give me a picture of the power, the knowledge and the wisdom of their Maker? "O, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and of the knowledge of God!" (Rom.11:33).

The spacious firmament on high,

With all the blue ethereal sky,

And spangled heavens, a shining frame,

Their great Original proclaim.

In reason's ear those orbs rejoice,

And utter forth a glorious voice;

Forever singing as they shine,

"The hand that made us is divine."

Mineral, vegetable and animal kingdom.--Now turning to earth, we find another world equally as wonderful. Consider the minerals and treasures concealed in the bowels of the earth. Steel, iron, coal, oil, diamonds, gold, silver, lead and copper, with many other minerals have already been drawn from earth to serve man. But how many other treasures are still hidden in mountains and hills, in the depths of the sea, that man will never discover! And yet, God, in His power, knowledge and wisdom, made them all.

Turning the vegetable kingdom, who can refrain from marveling at the panorama of wonders that unfolds itself here. There seems to be no limit to the variety of shape, color, form and species. Everywhere we behold a noble rivalry of beauty with usefulness. The same plant which may delight the eye with the beauty of its form and the wealth of its color, while spreading abroad an agreeable perfume, often offers food to the hungry in its fruit, honey to the bee in its blossoms, and medicine to the sick in its roots and sap. Great is their variety; yet, all spring from the same common mother earth. Each of them remains true to its nature and species, and never goes beyond its bounds. Not one takes on the blossoms of another, not one clothes itself with strange leaves, not one adorns itself with foreign fruit--devoid of reason, yet each a law of the wisdom of God, which has made them distinct one from the other since the day when they came forth from nothing. Still, unitedly they all proclaim the power, the wisdom and knowledge of God, so that the poet could sing:

Were I, O God, in churchless lands remaining,

Far from all voice of teachers or divines,

My soul would find in flowers of Thy ordaining

Priest, sermons, shrines!

Going one step further, we find ourselves surrounded by the animal kingdom. And again, what a spectacle we behold! We find God's living creatures everywhere, on land, in sea and air.  Each has its distinct nature and being; each proclaims God's handiwork.  Some were created to run or walk, some to fly or swim; and all are so constituted that they may accommodate themselves to the change of weather and the seasons, to the rain and the wind, the heat and the cold. The birds may sing or the lions may roar; but each species has its own speech, every sex has its own melody. They understand better the art of moderating their breath than man, of controlling their voice, of measuring their tones. Who teaches them all this? The Highest Wisdom is their teacher and guide. God has given each an instinct that guides it how to preserve life, to build nests, to feed and care for their young, and to select the climate in which to make their abode.

But where shall we find a clearer evidence of the power, knowledge and wisdom of God than in man himself?--man, the king of all God's creation! Viewing man from a physical standpoint, we find that his frame is composed of 246 bones. the veins, the arteries, the nerves and muscles, the tendons and tissues bind all parts together. "There are five hundred muscles, one billion cells, four gallons of blood, several hundred feet of arteries and veins, more than twenty five feet of intestines, and millions of pores. His heart weighs from eight to twelve ounces. It is a hollow, muscular organ, and pumps twenty two and one-half pounds of blood every minute. In twenty-four hours, the heart pumps sixteen tons!" The eye is a little world in itself. The ear is a wonderful piece of mechanism whereby we can hear and distinguish sounds, the mouth with which we eat and articulate. The marvel of the digestive and reproductive organs could also be dwelt on at length. So wonderful is the human body that Dr. W.R.C. Latson declares:

"In all mechanics and architecture, in all the machines and inventions of men, there is not to be discovered one single device that is not found in the human body. The arch, the lever, the inclined plane, a pump, a grist mill, a camera, a stringed instrument, hinges, pulleys, ball and socket joints,--all these and a score of other man-made inventions are merely crude copies of the wonderful devices found in his own body.

"The lungs, throughout their 60,00,00,000 tiny openings, have a surface equal to the floor of a room forty feet square. The body contains 2000 miles of tubing through which half a barrel of fluid is constantly pouring. The blood travels 168 miles a day. Truly, we are 'fearfully and wonderfully made!' "

Within that same noble frame, we find in man that noblest of all his faculties, the intellect, by virtue of which we can liken man to his Prototype.  Through his intellect and will, man rises immediately above all other visible creatures of God. With his intellect, man can travel in thought faster than light. It enables him to scan the firmament and explore the heavens and the earth around him. Yes, the intellect makes man almost God-like. Rightfully, could pagan physician Galenus exclaim: "O Thou, who hast formed us! I believe that when I describe the body with all its parts, I utter a hymn of praise to Thy glory.  I honor Thee more when I proclaim the beauty of Thy works than if I burned incense in the temples.

Conclusion.--This, my friends, is God, and omniscient, the omnipotent, the omnipresent, the all-wise God, who made us all, who governs and preserves us all. "O the depth of the riches of the wisdom and of the knowledge of God! How incomprehensible are His judgments, and how unsearchable His ways are!" (Rom.11:33). Sursum corda! Lift up your hearts!

Ye golden lamps of heaven, farewell

With all your feeble light;

Farewell, thou ever-changing moon,

Pale empress of the night.

And thou, refulgent orb of day,

In brighter flames arrayed,

My soul, that springs beyond thy sphere,

No more demands thine aid.

Ye stars are but the shining dust

of my divine abode,

Thy pavement of those heavenly courts

Where I shall reign with God.

The Father of eternal light

Shall there His beams display;

Nor shall one moment's darkness mix

With that unvaried day.

No more the drops of piercing grief

Shall swell into mine eyes;

Nor the meridian sun decline

Amidst those brighter skies.

Amen.