Predigten von P. Martin Löwenstein SJ

Predigt zur Tunnelsegnung DESY Hamburg 30.6.2010

1. Amazing work of humankind

  • Gunnar Reimann is a tunneling engineer working on the tube for the new particle accelerator. He cited an old tunnel-builders' proverb in the Abendblatt "It's always dark in front of the pick". Nevertheless, another saying is probably more fitting with this tunnel than anywhere else: There is a light at the end of the tunnel. Nowhere in the world will there be a light brighter than the light that will be produced here.
  • There is a long road ahead before that point will be reached. Each meter of tunnel construction can bring surprises. Ground water is the greatest challenge. Still, many people have joined together and a lot of money is being invested to have light at the end of the tunnel, a light that can deliver new, essential knowledge. Compared to basic research, however, what is happening today is very vivid and real: A tunnel is being dug through the mud at a depth of 38 meters.
  • I find all of this amazing. How much experience, effort and skill must come together for such an undertaking to succeed? How deeply has science penetrated the secrets of matter, and what is still waiting to be discovered? Humans are not just a very resourceful animal. We have abilities that leave everything else far behind. Only "a little lower than the heavenly beings" according to the prayer in Psalm 8 -- and that was more than 2,500 years ago, when there wasn't even electric light.

2. Faith in humans

  • The work here at the tube challenges the entire person, thus it is certainly fitting that today's activities include a blessing. That which gives us strength automatically comes into play where we humans are asked to give our all. For most of us this is probably the faith we experience in the family and the faith our friends have in us. They don't show up here at the construction site, but they are inseparable parts of us.
  • For some of those giving their all here, the other type of faith also comes into play. They have faith that we humans are not left to our own devices, but that the Word of God applies as testified in the Holy Scriptures of the Bible: I am with you. Saint Barbara is more than just a symbol. Very real persons such as Barbara make the faith that we place in God believable -- that this God is truly a blessing to people as He was a blessing to Barbara. This seed is so fertile precisely because we know so little about this woman from the third century. God gave this woman, who was surrounded by danger, strength through her faith. She did not fear misfortune and death because her relationship with God was one of faith.
  • More amazing than this faith of people in God, however, is the faith that God has in us. It is this faith that is the subject of song in Psalm 8. David turns his eyes to heaven and explores the mysteries of nature and is astonished that in the middle of all this God approaches us humans, reveals and shows Himself to us and gives us the assurance: I am with you! According to the testimony of the Bible, God has no name other than this one: I am there for you! And for Christians, that is the core of their faith -- that God lived as a man among us humans, to be with us in every sense. The blessing that we bestow at the construction site here today is therefore not some magical rite. It makes contemporary the basis of faith that gives many women and men the strength to utilize all of their abilities here. God has given these to them. They can use them here. The same applies to the science for which this facility is being constructed. "When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers," reads the Psalm; the physicist can say, "I am penetrating into the deep secrets of matter." That makes us amazed by this fascinating world, which exists because God wants it to be and has created it.

3. Faith

  • The last and actual reason for amazement, however, is faith. "What is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him?" God has faith in us humans and our abilities. When the Psalm was written, humankind did not yet know the technical perfection to which humans would take violence in the modern era, up to the industrial annihilation of millions of people and the destruction of the environment. But humankind has always been aware of the dark side. Still, the Psalm sings of the faith that God has in us humans. God, says the Bible, is love, and wants to encounter us on an equal level.
  • Next to the tremendous technical and scientific accomplishments is the simple human; simply that which we are as humans. "From the lips of children and infants" who have not yet accomplished anything great comes the praise of God, and the dignity of humankind shines. Especially on a day like today it is important to remember that many contribute to the shared achievement, even if they are not in the spotlight. Those at the construction site and in the offices who clean up the mess left behind by others are just as valuable and important as the engineers and professors.
  • The most important thing in life is unspectacular. It grows slowly like a mustard seed, which is so small as to be unremarkable. The most important thing in life are the relationships that we have and the love that bears us. It begins small as a mustard seed, but should grow to be like "a tree, so that the birds of the air come and perch in its branches." Go, then, about your work with confidence. Use all of your strength and abilities. But never lose sight of that which sustains us. Amen.