"Remember, I am with you always to the end of the age" (Mt 28:20)

How Big Is Your God? Solemnity of Christ the King Homily by Fr Ravi Louis Michael SJ

World's Tallest Statue Of Jesus Christ in Poland

ow big is your God? This question introduces a book authored by the Ignatian scholar Paul Coutinho. It makes me recall another work of a similar vein written by an Anglican clergyman John Bertram Phillips with a retort - Your God is too Small! God’s size has indeed become an important issue these days. The other day I saw a picture of someone holding the moon on the palm of their hands. It is basically a photographic illusion. But, we do literally hold the world in our hands these days when we use our mobile devices. And, the latter is hardly an illusion. In our mobile devices, we hold a world shrunk onto the palm of our hands and at our fingertips. I need not belabor the point that it literally runs our lives these days. And, I have witnessed its own shrinking through the years, from that monstrous dead weight by Motorola weighing more than a kilogram to a device whose presence I hardly sense in my pocket. One mark of technological advancement seems to be: the lesser the space a device requires, the more efficient it can become – being more mobile while increasing in functions, storage capacities, and durability of life. Perhaps, this is the kind of God which makes sense to our senses these days – weightless but efficient. If God is laboring in our modern world, then He must parallel a device we hold in our hands – efficient without being overbearing, doing His job while demanding lesser space from us. Prayer too can become a device in which we shrink God into an efficiency devoid of dead weight. But, isn’t life worth living because of all its dead weight? How can I begin to love someone if I do not care about all the insignificant details building into monumental achievements and rejoice in all that irrelevant moments surrounding exciting events? What distinguishes a friend from a mere acquaintance is the ability to talk nonsense without losing sense. Relationships are formed around those pointless details which strangers dread. And, God desires the irrelevant because He seeks a relationship, not a machine that does His will with impeccable alacrity. When we become closer to God, we are not shrunk into efficient mobile devices on the palm of His hands but made more whole. Discernment for St Ignatius is about gaining dead weight, about reversing the flow of technology and making our mobile devices bigger; rather is it about how vast our hearts are becoming instead of how efficiently we are functioning. And, this is the key debate that Jesus is having with Pilate. Pilate was thinking of authority and efficiency and success. Jesus speaks of courage and authenticity and growth. Jesus’ reign has nothing to do with power, but with the relationship. It has got nothing to do with the ability to get things done or prevent things from happening, but with the resolve to belong, to be part of something, to participate - and participation requires dead weight, it requires the entire mass and momentum - every irrelevant substance - of our lives. Just as Jesus is firstborn of the dead before becoming ruler of kings, we need to be connected to those unsavory-irrelevant-inefficient details in our lives in order to learn courage, become authentic, and foster genuine growth. When God has become big (close and clear, efficient and effective) in our prayer periods, then, although His ability to deal with the needs of our own little worlds becomes more evident, He may in fact have become too small to be true. An inadequate image of God reveals its inadequacies frequently because it constantly fails in life. An adequate image of God never reveals its secret inadequacy because it never seems to fail – it becomes efficient, but not necessarily truthful. Prayer is difficult because it depends on all those moments of irrelevance – lingering in visions of the night more than achieving insights in daylight. These moments of irrelevance are where God dwells. Lord, grant us a holiness that befits your house and cultivate in us a home which befits your reign. Amen.