– Rev José Mario O Mandía
The word “infinite” comes from Latin, composed of the negative prefix “in-” (“not”) and the noun “finis” (“boundary,” “limit,” “territory,” or “end”). It can be understood in a negative way or in a positive way.
In a negative sense, “infinite” can mean not having any limits or boundaries or restrictions. God is Infinite, neither bounded nor limited by anything. Indeed it is the very opposite – He is the one who sets the limits. “Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Tell me, if you have understanding. Who determined its measurements – surely you know! Or who stretched the line upon it?” (Job 38:4-5) The book of Wisdom prays, “Thou hast arranged all things by measure and number and weight” (11:20).
To say that God is infinite is the same as to say that he is “immense” (from Latin “in-” meaning “not” and “mensura” or “measure”): he cannot be measured. “‘Do I not fill heaven and earth?’ says the LORD” (Jeremiah 23:24).
In the positive sense, it can mean having something in abundance and having an inexhaustible “supply” of it. He is Infinite, inexhaustible in His perfection, like a spring that brings forth water without end. Sacred Scripture repeats this idea when it speaks about God’s love: He is “abounding in steadfast love” (Joel 2:13; Jonah 4:2); “his steadfast love endures for ever” (Ps 100:5); “the steadfast love of the LORD never ceases, his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning” (Lamentations 3:22-23).
We have explained the reason for God’s infinity from the philosophical point of view. Our reason is able to arrive at the conclusion that God is infinite because He is pure Act of Being (cf Bite-Size Philosophy 80). Revelation confirms what reason can discover.
The very first point of the Catechism of the Catholic Church brings up this fact: “God, infinitely perfect and blessed in himself, in a plan of sheer goodness freely created man to make him share in his own blessed life. For this reason, at every time and in every place, God draws close to man. He calls man to seek him, to know him, to love him with all his strength” (CCC 1).
The CCC (no 202) says moreover: “We firmly believe and confess without reservation that there is only one true God, eternal infinite (immensus) and unchangeable, incomprehensible, almighty and ineffable, the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit; three persons indeed, but one essence, substance or nature entirely simple.”
HE IS EVERYWHERE
We have seen above that nothing can limit God. “Place” is a kind of limit that restricts something to one specific location. Since nothing can place limits on God, God is not restricted by place. He is omnipresent, He is everywhere, He is present in all His creation.
“‘Am I a God at hand, says the LORD, and not a God afar off? Can a man hide himself in secret places so that I cannot see him?’ says the LORD” (Jeremiah 23:23-24).
“And before him no creature is hidden, but all are open and laid bare to the eyes of him with whom we have to do” (Hebrews 4:13). “He knows the secrets of the heart” (Psalm 44:21). “Whither shall I go from thy Spirit? Or whither shall I flee from thy presence? If I ascend to heaven, thou art there! If I make my bed in Sheol, thou art there! If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there thy hand shall lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me. If I say, ‘Let only darkness cover me, and the light about me be night,’ even the darkness is not dark to thee, the night is bright as the day; for darkness is as light with thee. For thou didst form my inward parts, thou didst knit me together in my mother’s womb” (Psalm 139:7-13).