Great are The Works of The Lord (Psalm 111)


The Responsorial Psalm in the Catholic Missal for Sept 20, 2017 contains the verse “How great are the works of the Lord”. The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)’s recent Cassini mission to Saturn may provide some clues.


To a lay person like me, this offers a small glimpse of “How Great Thou Art”. The images provided by the Cassini. Some of the numerical facts from this mission are simply mind boggling. It took the spacecraft almost seven years from launch (Oct. 15, 1997, from Cape Canaveral, Florida) to arrival at Saturn (July 1, 2004), which is about a billion miles away. For light to travel from Saturn’s orbit to earth takes between 67 and 85 minutes.

Those who have witnessed the birth of a child are often amazed at the creation of life.  Looking closer at the building block of life, the DNA, which is a string of organic molecules called nucleotides represented by the four letters of A (adenine), C (cytosine), G (guanine), and T (thymine), can also give the observer the same awe.


Combinations of three of these four letters will form the genetic code or DNA codon which dictates the kind of amino acid to be incorporated during protein synthesis. The genome of an influenza virus is made up of a string of about 13588 nucleotides (of A, C, G, and T/U existing in a certain order that defines this living organism as influenza virus).

Despite this apparent simplicity, the virus has the capability of enormous changes enough to cause potential havoc of a pandemic flu like the Spanish flu of 1918 that claimed 50 to 100 million lives.


The human genome is made up of about three billion nucleotides, which is responsible for all sort of human traits. However, regardless of our race or skin color, our DNA is made up of these same building blocks of A, C, G, and T nucleotides present in a special order that determines our uniqueness.

The paradox of the complexity of life and yet the simplicity of the building blocks of life may be a reflection of how great the author of life is.

When we are faced with such grandeur, whether it is our universe or life’s DNA, it is hard to deny some higher power behind all of these. Also we may indeed feel small or helpless; yet the Creator of life, has given humans the wisdom to explore these wonders and sometimes to make discoveries that can benefit mankind.

If we are open to the grace and enlightenment, we are given an opportunity to appreciate and enjoy the beauty and wonderful discoveries of creation.


Indeed our surroundings are full of beauty and awe. Simple daily sunrise and sunset, musical compositions by Bach, Beethoven, Mozart etc., the poems by EE Cummings, Emily Dickinson, Robert Frost, etc. or the writing of William Shakespeare, Ernst Hemingway, or Mark Twain.

Or simply the changing colors of the four seasons can sometimes touch us deeply (depending on our state of mind).

Reflecting on these wonders, I have a deep gratitude, and a small understanding of “How great are the works of the Lord”.

  • Peter Bisson, SJ
    Posted at 03:24h, 27 November Reply

    Thank you Pilgrim!

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