Remember the joke about the little boy who was afraid to get the broom out of the dark closet for his mom? She assured him, “Don’t be afraid. God is everywhere.” So the little boy cracked open the closet door a little and called in, “Hey, God, would you hand me the broom!” Catholic Vitamins is a podcast that presents topics following the alphabet. Last week I spoke on U for the Ubiquity of God. (You can listen to this talk on www.catholicvitamins.com. It’s in the second half of the program.) Ubiquity was a pleasant topic because God’s omnipresence is a comforting attribute. We are never alone because God is constantly with us, and so we needn’t feel lonely or be afraid. God says in Isaiah 41:10, “Do not fear, for I am with you. . . I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”
One thing I like about the Catechism of the Catholic Church is that along with calling God Most High, it calls God Most Near. How can God be everywhere? He is the eternal, infinite spirit. He is not restricted by space or time. God is in everything he created simply by the fact that he is the cause, the source of all being. (But everything is not God or even a part of God. To think so is the error of pantheism.) God keeps everything in existence. If God stopped thinking about you, the chair you are sitting in would be empty.
St. Paul said, “In him we live and move and have our being.” God is like the air we breathe: invisible, life-giving, all around us. There is a story about a little fish who is looking for the ocean. He asks a big fish, “Where is the ocean?” The big fish replies, “It’s what you’re swimming in.” “But this is just water,” the little fish replies, and he swims on in search of the ocean. This is what we’re often like. Although we are swimming in God, we don’t realize it. Marty Rubin observed, “Solitude is when we discover that we are not alone.” Sometimes at prayer we become acutely aware of God’s presence. Beholding a fantastic piece of God’s creation (They are ubiquitous!) also might bring us to stand before God in awe.
The beautiful Psalm 139:5–11 sings about God’s omnipresence: “Behind and before you encircle me and rest your hand upon me. . . .Where can I go from your spirit? From your presence, where can I flee?/ If I ascend to the heavens, you are there; if I lie down in Sheol, there you are. /If I take the wings of dawn and dwell beyond the sea, /Even there your hand guides me, your right hand holds me fast./ If I say, ‘Surely darkness shall hid me’. . .Darkness is not dark for you.”
Jesus, who doesn’t lie, promised, “I will be with you always.” The apocryphal Gospel of Thomas, a collection of sayings of Jesus, includes this one: “Split wood; I am there. Lift up a rock, you will find me there.” That’s why St. Patrick—and we—can say, “Christ with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me; Christ in me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me; Christ on my right, Christ on my left; Christ in breadth, Christ in length, Christ in height.”
We call Israel the holy land. But because God is everywhere, our land is holy too. And yes, he’s got the whole world in his hands.
When have you been keenly aware of God’s presence? What do you do to remember that God is with you, loving you and caring for you?