One day two learned men were walking along the seashore, discussing the mystery of God. However, they weren’t making very much progress. Suddenly they came upon a small boy playing on the beach. He had dug a hole in the sand and kept running down to the sea, dipping his toy bucket in the water, and running back up the beach to empty the water into the hole.
The two men watched him for a while as he ran back and forth filling and emptying his bucket. They found the scene amusing. They went up to the boy and asked him what he was doing. Very seriously he told them he was emptying the ocean into the hole he had dug in the sand. The two smiled, and walked on, resuming their discussion about God.
After a while, one of them stopped and said to the other, “You know, we were amused just now when that child told us what he was trying to do. Yet what we have been trying to do in our discussion about God is just the same. It is just as impossible for us to understand the mystery of God as it is for that child to put the water of the ocean into that hole. Our minds are but tiny thimbles, whereas the reality of God is as great as the ocean.”
As the story says: it is impossible for us to understand God. God is a mystery. But a mystery is not something we can know nothing about. A mystery is something which is so full of meaning, that no matter how hard to try, we will never get to the bottom of it. Therefore, the story must not be used to justify laziness or superficiality in our efforts to understand something of the mystery of God.
It’s possible to know of the existence of God by our own reasoning. At the sight of something or other, a person will know in an instant that these things do not exist through themselves, and that God is.
But we would know very little about God if he hadn’t revealed himself to us. It is especially in the Scriptures that we know God. From the Scriptures we learn that God is Father, Son and Spirit. And from the Scriptures we learn what God is like. For instance today’s First Reading says that God is “a God of tenderness and compassion, slow to anger, rich in kindness and faithfulness.” And the Gospel says: “God loved the world so much that he gave his only Son … “
Both readings have the same message: God is a God of love. That is something tremendously important to know about God. God loves us, not because we are good, but because God is good. Our very existence is a sign of God’s love. God’s unconditional love for us is the Good News.
Our response can only be one of trust in God and love towards one another. What St. Paul said to the Corinthians is meant also for us: “Help one another. Be united; live in peace, and the God of love and peace will be with you.”