On the Omnipotence of God

What follows are some musings about the nature of God’s omnipotence.

First, is a second hand story. A religious friend of mine once told me this: A young man was perplexed by the nature of God and was trying to discern certain philosophical issues. In his musings, he came to a startling question that made explicit his profound difficulties with the nature of God. How, he asked, can an entirely spiritual being communicate with a material one? The young man, after several minutes of serious reflection, decided that such was impossible. Having resolved the question to his satisfaction, he noted a small piece of paper on the floor; he reached down and picked it up. Turning it over, he noticed writing: it said, “He just does.”—as if in answer to his original query.

From my own experience, I have another tale to relate—this one a little less inspiring, if a little more amusing. I was at Mass one day, and the priest was blessing the congregation. Half-jokingly, he said that the blessing would extend all the way to the room in the opposite corner of the church, even though the holy water never reached it. I, of course, started to analyze that proposition wondering what kind of properties a blessing would have and how it could be transmitted from the priest to the room. I imagined kind of an energy field, fluctuating and moving, that transferred divine power. Then, I realized that was kind of silly. If God wanted to bless the room, he wouldn’t have to rely on energy fields to do so. Much like the communication above, it just would happen.

Similarly, if He wants to give the Eucharist a special blessing, he can do so with no effort.

Effort is key here. Whatever God wants to do, He does, and it doesn’t require any particular effort on His part. He doesn’t operate like we do. He doesn’t take a series of steps to perform a task; He simply does the task. Immediately. Completely. And without breaking a sweat. That’s what it means to be omnipotent. Or at least, that’s how I understand it these days, which is a far cry better than my understanding just a few short years ago.

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