The realm of theology

Psalm 72

Give the king by justice O God and thy righteousness to the Royal Son!

May he judge thy people with righteousness and the poor with justice!

Let the mountains bear prosperity for the people and the hills in righteousness!

May he defend the cause of the poor of the people, give deliverance to the needy and crush the oppressor!

May the kings of Tarshish and of the Isles render him tribute, may the kings of Sheba and Seba bring gifts! May all kings fall down before him, all nations serve him!

For he delivers the needy when he calls, the poor and him who has no helper. He has pity on the weak and the needy and saves the lives of the needy.

From oppression and violence he redeems their life; and precious is there blood in his sight. Long may he live, may gold of Sheba be given to him! Bless it be his glorious name for ever; may his glory fill the whole Earth!

Reflection: We know from Luke and Matthew the effect of the birth on the representatives of ordinary Jewish folk and on the Wise Men. How might the movement of the birth of the Word-made-flesh have seemed or been recalled, say, by Joseph? After all, it was a new beginning; things had changed. It was evidence of a new creation.

A reading from the Protevangelion of James: Creation Stood Still:  

“Now I, Joseph, was walking, yet I walked not. I looked up into the air and gazed in amazement.

And I looked up onto the pole of heaven and saw it standing still, and saw that the birds of heaven were without motion.

And I looked upon the Earth and I saw a bowl set, and workmen lying beside it with their hands in the bowl: and those who were chewing, chewed not, and those who were lifting the food, lifted not, and those who put it into their mouths, but it not thereto.

But the faces of all of them were looking upward.

And behold, there were sheep being driven, and they went not forward but stood still. And the Shepherd lifted his hand to urge them with his staff, and his hand remained there.

And I looked upon the stream of the river, and saw the mouths of the kids upon the water and they drank not.

…. And all of a sudden, all things moved onwards in their natural course.”


Occasionally, very occasionally, we can get such moments to when time itself, the sacrosanct ticking of Nature’s clock, seems to stop briefly, bringing a stark and intensely sharp focus to some event or memory.

Some years ago, I was privileged to be part of a UK scientist team visiting CERN in Geneva the week before the Atlas machine on the underground particle accelerator ring was turned on for experiments to begin.

After the introduction, I asked the lead physicist “What are you looking for?”.

He said “To recreate what we can of the Big Bang, so we go back to a trillionth of a second after the Big Bang itself in our experiments.”

“Why not all the way back?”, I asked.

“Because,” he said, “that is the realm of theology.”

In terms of the current understanding of physics, the Big Bang cannot be explained because it is an infinitely high pulse of energy delivered in an infinitesimally short interval of time. This is a physical impossibility for humans to create … that is why it is the realm of theology.

Verses from Psalm 72

Give the King thy judgements O God. And the righteousness unto the King’s Son.

Then shall he judge thy people according unto right. And defend the poor.

The mountains also shall bring peace. And the little hills righteousness unto the people.