By FATHER PAUL KEENAN

‘Don’t you believe that there is in man a deep so profound as to be hidden even to him in whom it is?” St. Augustine wrote those words over 1,600 years ago, and they are as true today as they were the day he penned them. That “deep so profound” is what we call “being made in the image and likeness of God,” and it is true of every one of us. It is easy for us to lose sight of those deep waters within ourselves and to lose sight of them in others.

In our society, we have come dangerously close to missing the soul and the soulfulness in human beings. There are those in society who would redefine the very meaning of human life so as to exclude the unborn, those with special needs, the critically ill and the elderly.

Everyone else, they say, has a right to live, but not those whose names are written on the “B-list.” In so doing, they both miss and refuse to acknowledge the fundamental worth and sacredness of all human life because it is made in God’s image. It is a sad and terrible omission, with grave consequences for us all.

We miss the “deep within” in other ways as well. Because we are too busy to notice or because we have bought into inadequate ideas about what constitutes importance, we can pass by manifestations of true greatness in those around us. In my radio work at the Catholic Channel on Sirius, I go to a massive office building in Rockefeller Center.

Several companies have offices in that building, including important broadcasters and publishers. There are 2.5 million square feet to that building, 52 stories and 670 feet of height. It’s difficult to imagine how many people work there, but there are 41 elevators, if that gives you any idea. Yet as I enter the building, there are certain people whom I notice, some of whom I have come to know. Most people walk past them without recognition. That is a mistake. For if you take a moment to acknowledge those who are responsible for the daily care of that great skyscraper, you find that they have a “deep so profound” that shines more brightly than the building itself.

I almost never enter the building without meeting the man who polishes the floors. He takes pride in his job; the expression on his face is intent. Yet when he sees me, he waves and sometimes pauses to say hello. I don’t know much about him, but as I look into his eyes I see a man of faith. As I approach the elevators there is another man whose job it is to clean them and the floors around them. He works hard at that job, and his elevators are spotless; but he never fails to take time to say hello and even sometimes to press the button for me. I don’t know him very well, but I know that he has the heart of a friend.

Upstairs, where our offices are, there is a vibrant young woman who cleans the offices and studios, vacuums the carpets and picks up the garbage. She works furiously, yet she is never without a smile or a kind word. Nor is the man who mops the floors in the lobby where I often sit before going to the studio. He has a happy face and, I think, a happy heart.

I look at them and I see that “deep so profound.” They don’t write books or broadcast radio programs, but they publish and broadcast goodness into the hustle and bustle of a world that can so easily ignore them. They are beacons of light, true images of God and bearers of the goodness of Christ. Daily they take their place beside us as workers in the vineyard, outward signs of an inward grace—the “deep so profound.”