Father Eugene Hemrick

“Mesmerized” best describes the people around me who were watching the animated video of the Mars rover Curiosity land on the red planet’s surface. The video was part of an exhibit at the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum in Washington. It includes spectacular pictures of Mars and a model of Curiosity.

The video begins with a space capsule and then large rubber balls float down to Mars’ surface. Curiosity lands and then bounces repeatedly before stopping. The rubber balls deflate and there stands Curiosity. Immediately, its sun panels open and its cameras begin surveying the terrain. After being recharged by the sun, it begins moving across Mars’ desertlike surface.

As it comes upon a large rock, it stops and its drill removes the rock’s surface. Next, the rover probes inside the rock and analyzes its organic makeup.

As I reflected on the technological advances NASA has achieved, other astonishing achievements came to mind. We have come far in such a short time. As I walked home from the exhibit, I wondered, “Are these technological breakthroughs becoming so common that we take them for granted?”

It is true that when we take something for granted, much of its awe is diminished. Equally true is the feeling that “it’s to be expected,” and we may no longer be in awe.

In this age of breakthroughs, how can we maintain our sense of awe? How can we maintain the gratitude it generates?

Our answer can be found at the start of the book of Sirach: “All wisdom is from the Lord and remains with him forever. The sands of the sea, the drops of rain, the days of eternity — who can count them? Heaven’s height, earth’s extent, the abyss and wisdom — who can explore them? … There is but one, wise and truly awesome, seated upon his throne — the Lord.”

Sirach continues: “It is he who created her, saw her and measured her, poured her forth upon all his works.”

When we revisit the video on Curiosity and see it through the eyes of Sirach, our awe returns and it is more splendid. Behind these technological feats is the wisdom that God imbued in us.

The inspiration behind our mind-boggling achievements comes from God. Equally awe-inspiring is God’s desire that we be co-creators with him. Curiosity not only left us and traveled to Mars, but it also raises our thoughts up to God.