Every normal person knows what beauty is. Even a little child is attracted to what is beautiful. Beauty is attractive and easy to be recognized. There’s something beautiful in a simple act of kindness or a genuine smile. There is something captivatingly beautiful in remaining selflessly committed to a young handicap husband/wife. It is breathtakingly beautiful to come to understand the sacrificial love Jesus endured on the cross for our salvation. Each one of us has a deep desire to experience or taste that kind of infinite beauty. We long for that infinite beauty and are restless until we find it. We long for beauty and refuse to settle for mediocrity. beauty points us toward the answer to the profound and eternal questions of life. beauty seems to be something like happiness; although we cannot define it, we know how to pinpoint it and it is very recognizable.
It is interesting that both the sciences and theology, despite the fact they have different focuses and are constantly shooting at each other, proposes beauty as the answer to life’s burning questions. Scientists overwhelmingly agree that beauty must be the standard by which we discover scientific truth. Beauty is the intersection where the sciences and theology meet each other and point to where humanity needs to be headed if they are to reach the height to which they are called. The overwhelming evidence of the beautiful order of the universe points to an orderer. Although that orderer is not necessarily the God of the Bible, it prompts our curiosity to get to know that orderer.
When scientists look at creation, they see order, harmony, proportion, and unity. They all agree that there is something to be known, otherwise why looking?, and that something is out there. That beauty is in the eyes of the beholder is simply absurd, purely arrogant and a result of wanting to be powerful. No one displays relativistic view when it comes to matters of life and death. No one drives a car if he is told that it will explode upon igniting the engine. No one drinks a pill if he is told that it causes cancer. No one receives blood transfusion unless the blood is tested. Clearly, there is something good and beautiful in using a car. It is amazingly beautiful that a pill can make us feeling so well or blood transfusion keeps our engine running. So no one ever says that kind of beautiful powers is in the eye of the driver, receiver. It is ironic that we accept only what we cannot deny it. That should concern us, really. Why do some tend to treat so cavalierly moral and religious matters?
We all have deep admiration for a motivated and determined virtuous person. Even a divorced, unfaithful person admires a married couple who generously sacrifices for each other and for their children, preserve their chastity, and remain together despite thick and thin for the sake of the indissolubility of marriage. Everyone respects a man or a woman who gives up family and career to embrace celibacy for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. Even an atheist can recognize the beauty behind that virtuous act even if he may see it as a waste of energy.
There is beauty and gratitude for what Plato, Aristotle, Homer, Dante, the Church Fathers, the medieval thinkers, scholastic thinkers, the works of Fyodor Dostoyevsky and G. K. Chesterton have accomplished in helping us the value of human life and existence. How can words express the beauty in kindnesses done to complete strangers out of utter anonymity? Is there anything more beautiful than the virtues of saints like mother Teresa who dedicated her whole life to the poorest of the poor, even to the risk of her life in war zone areas? Who can fail to see heroic beauty in St. Maximilian Kolbe’s action who volunteered to die in place of a father of three in the Nazis death camp at Auschwitz? Who does not see beauty in Dorothy day’s heroic action for the homeless in New York City? Who does not accept John Paul II’s leadership as beauty incarnate when he re-energizes young men and women to not let fear be crippled them? No time to mention the beauty of creation which brings tears into our eyes in contemplation; what to make of the beautiful art and music?
Why are the actions paused by those people beautiful, heroic, and praiseworthy? First, they perform heroic action not only in ordinary, but also in unusual circumstances; they acted when many could not comprehend the depth of their action i.e. in a time when their action could have gone unnoticed. Second, they are heroic not only when the situations demand it, but on a daily basis. Third, they act with promptness, joyfulness, and ease. Fourth, despite the magnanimity of their action, they remain honest and humble. That kind of beauty is like the sun darted about in dark places; it is not just in the eyes of the beholder.
Thoughtful reflection. I look forward to the day you can put all these thoughts into homilies!