July 14, 2011 - Memorial of Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha, virgin

Today's Readings

Today we hear the name of our Lord. Moses asks him, “Who shall I say sent me?” and the Lord says, “I am who am.” This name, which is a Hebrew word that we do not know how to pronounce properly, contains deep revelations about God. There are two attempts to pronounce the name in English. We know that “Jehovah” is completely wrong, but we are by no means sure that “Yahweh” is exactly right. We do not use this name of God in our worship. We do not sing songs or say prayers that contain an attempt to pronounce this name.

However, we do look to the name to learn who God is. What does this mean: “I am who am”? It could mean, first of all, “I am who I am.” Moses asks God who he is and God responds saying that there is no way to put into human words who God is, not completely. God is who he is, and any further description of him will fall short. We cannot put God in a little box and think that we know him. He is the incomprehensible mystery.

It also could mean “I am the one who is”, which is to say, God is. Period. We exist because God made us. I can imagine a universe where I did not exist or where you did not exist. I can imagine a universe where the earth did not exist. I can even imagine an existence where the universe did not exist. But, if I imagine a universe where God does not exist, I am imagining nonsense. He is the fundamental fact of existence. He created all things, but he himself was never created. He just is. Everything else could have gone either way, but God is the reality on which everything else rests. There is no possibility that there is no God.

People talk about creationism or evolution as if they were speaking about a universe with God or a universe without God. Our thoughts should be more basic. We know God exists because stuff exists, and stuff is not the fundamental fact of the universe. Debating the existence of God by talking about creation is like debating about the author of a book by talking about the book. We can all agree on one thing: there is a book, therefore there must be an author. A book does not just poof into existence. Neither does a universe.