Sunday thoughts: April

By Monsignor John Devine

The Moon is 250,000 miles away – ten times the circumference of the Earth. It would take six months in a VW Golf at 60mph to get there. Neil Armstrong needed three days in 1969. Using current space technology it takes eight hours. In space terms, the Moon is very close (any closer and we would be in danger of banging into it).

Our nearest neighbouring star, Proxima Centauri, is not so close. Using existing technology, you would require 80,000 years to travel there. Astronomers have recently identified Trappist 1 as the closest star with orbiting 'Goldilocks' planets (neither too hot nor too cold) that could potentially sustain life. The problem is that Trappist 1 is 40 light years away. It would take 800,000 years to reach it. Both of these stars are in our backyard in comparison with the rest of the Milky Way. And the Milky Way is only one of billions of galaxies.

At the Easter Vigil on Holy Saturday we relive the story of creation and of our salvation in Christ. We hear the call of Abraham, the account of the Exodus, and we listen to the writings of the prophets. Events recorded in the Bible feel like ancient history. Yet set against the vastness of the universe, the period between Abraham and Jesus and the present day is 4,000 years, no time at all. The human race is just 200,000 years old. Abraham looked up and saw the same night sky we do. If he had set off on an 800,000-mile journey to Trappist 1, his spacecraft would not be that far ahead of us if we decided to follow him today.