I remember when my dad, a high school science teacher, would take me as a six-year-old to drive past bedtime to the nearby observatory at Carlton College in rural southern Minnesota. Together we would look through the telescope at the planets and the stars.
Much later, in the 1990s, I was astonished to see more deeply into space when I first examined the Hubble Space Telescope photograph of Terzan 1, a globular star cluster in the constellation Scorpius, 22,000 light-years from Earth. And now, perhaps you have been as awestruck as I at the first composite deep-field infrared photograph of a galaxy cluster, 4 billion, 600 million light-years away, as seen in July by the James Webb Space Telescope.
Sometime, examine the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe. See the eight-pointed stars on her blue mantle. God has clothed her with the stars and the galaxies. She is Queen of the Universe.
In 1969, Pope Paul VI changed the title of today’s last Sunday of the Church’s liturgical year to be the Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe. Mary, the Queen, and Jesus, the King of the Universe.
Today’s scriptural reading from the Letter to the Colossians says: “He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For in him were created all things in heaven and on earth, the visible and the invisible. …
He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.” In scripture, the infinite knowability of the universe speaks to us of the infinite knowability of God, who we cannot see.
The other day I watched an 80-minute YouTube documentary, The Letter, about Laudato Si’, Pope Francis’s encyclical letter to all people of Earth, an urgent plea to work together on behalf of the biodiversity of Earth, our Common Home. Under the mantle of the Queen of the Universe, and one body in Christ, King of the Universe, we are shown the grandeur of the stars and galaxies. Learning that our very bodies are created from the dust of God’s stars and galaxies, we turn our attention here and now to our corner of the vast universe, to our common home and to the care of Earth
(This image taken with the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope shows Terzan 1, a globular cluster that lies about 22,000 light-years from Earth in the constellation Scorpius.)
He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation; for in him all things in heaven and on earth were created, things visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or powers—all things have been created through him and for him. He himself is before all things, and in him all things hold together. He is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that he might come to have first place in everything. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him God was pleased to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, by making peace through the blood of his cross.
Scripture passage from the New Revised Standard Version Bible: Catholic Edition, copyright 1989, 1993, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.