These words, which are a distillation of Catholic Theology are seldom used these days, but remain the essence of our Purpose. Who is this God that we are supposed to know, love and serve? Who are we in relation to this God? How and why should we love Him? How are we supposed to serve Him?
These questions deserve practical answers so that we may understand them and be able to invest ourselves in God’s Purpose.
To begin, we should take a brief look at ourselves so that we better understand why we have difficulty seeing God. Americans are unique in this world – hard working, independent, generous, compassionate, seeking happiness, self worth and love. All worthy attributes, but all directed at the wrong person – ourselves.
We say we want to have a relationship with God, but on our terms. We use expressions such as “I am very spiritual,” or “I am saved.” Removing the “I” seems next to impossible.
Most of us do not consider that we have a purpose in life other than growing up, going to college, getting a good job, falling in love and having a family. These also are genuine hopes, but only if directed towards our real purpose. Nor do we recognize that a life with God provides purpose for every second of every day – for the short time that we are on this earth.
At this point I want to interject the biblical expression “The Fullness of Time,” which means the exact, specific, correct, or only possible time. When I refer to Man or Mankind I am only addressing the progeny of the historical people referred to as Adam and Eve from the book of Genesis.
God is Love – a simple statement and common cliche that fails to convey the enormity of his existence. To get to know anyone we have to spend time with them, see what the do and why and learn what we mean to each other.
God created the Universe and the World to be the common home of Man. Having “dominion” (Gen 2:26) over the Earth means that we are the World’s custodians and tenants, but may use the Earth while we care for it for the length of the lease.
In his design God made us both Spiritual, a being that is eternal and capable of knowing God, and physical, a finite body that serves as the temple of the soul. Humans are the highest order on the Earth, intended by God to have equal worth and to care for the fruits of the earth so that they may be shared for the benefit of all.
We are mammals that share a good proportion of our genes with other mammals and also with all other living species, which means that we are intricately related to all life. Through our chemical composition we are made from the very earth. Some believe that we are merely products of the earth, but that would mean that we have no purpose. If that were the case we would have no spiritual side and simply be part of a natural cycle, which for humans and our natural greed, would have lead to annihilation.
Jesus makes everything complete for his Father. That is why creation has a beginning and an end with the end being a fulfillment for God. The destiny of Man and the World is linked as we are on the same journey for the same purpose. This makes each one of us a perfect piece of an enormous puzzle, a stepping stone and integral part of that fulfillment.
We are designed to develop a society on earth for a divine purpose. That purpose is to live with one another and build a spiritual relationship between us that mirrors the evidence of our loving Creator through our living as Christians.
The World’s natural cycle is normally held in balance by converting everything through a process of consumption or decay. But it is not unusual for nature to cycle through changes that are violent and literally – earth changing. We have a glaring witness of this through the dinosaur extinction about sixty five million years ago.
Man entered upon the Earth in the fullness of time, for it has physically changed little from the time of Adam to what it is today. For all these thousands of years the world has been a hospitable and bountiful home.
Laudato Si, an exhortation by Pope Francis, is a timely document, which argues how we are unavoidably tied to a relationship between God, our Neighbor and the Earth. So here we are, again living in an extraordinary time, too soon to determine whether it is another “Fullness of Time.” Only now, out of all the centuries that Man has existed, are we able to appreciate the finite resources of the world and be able to understand how careless we have been with them.
This is the exact and critical time when we are all required to carry out our purpose as custodians. In the meantime history has exemplified the generosity of God and the abundance of his love.
So what is God’s plan? For those of Faith, most would say salvation – to be happy with Him in Heaven, forever. So why do we experience suffering? The easiest explanation is that suffering conforms to nature. How do we grow up without experiencing growth pains? Or complete college without study? What marriage does not have it’s ups and downs?
The truth is all around us. We may see it in the contest between the cheetah and the gazelle or a walk in the forest witnessing the eternal struggle for sunlight. We are supposed to confront and endure suffering, which is part of the nature of man, but God’s plan for Man is more – we must choose the nature of God. Fortunately Jesus gave us The Way, the source that instructs how to change our lives, to become children of God.
St. Therese “the little flower,” is a perfect example for us. Her reading scripture from an early age enabled her to understand the heavenly plan. She even wrote “The little Way,” so that we may all become Holy. “The good God does not need years to accomplish His work of love in a soul; one ray from His Heart can, in an instant, make His flower bloom for eternity.” “On the day of my conversion Charity entered into my heart and with it a yearning to forget self always; thenceforward I was happy.”
In order to achieve true happiness we must first recognize the prize, which we call Heaven, as Christ explained in detail: Mat 6:21 “for where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. What Treasure? Mat 13:44: “The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure hidden in the field , which a man found and hid again; and from joy over it he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.” Why? Mat19:21 “If you wish to be complete, go and sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.”
We must simplify our lives and learn to Trust in God as children trust their parents. Mark 10:15 “Truly I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child will not enter it at all.”
Then we must change from our nature of Man by leaving the secular world behind and entering into our spiritual nature, the nature of life in light: Mat 19:17 ““Why do you ask me about what is good?” Jesus replied. “There is only One who is good. If you want to enter life, keep the commandments.”
Finally we must practice being children of God by putting others before ourselves: Jn 13:35 “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
The big mystery of why God made us is thus exposed. To begin to understand this question one has to understand the properties of Love, because God is Love: To be a disciple of Jesus we have to learn about love and how to BE Love. The most unifying trait of all the saints was their Love for God. Love is transcendental; Love is a spiritual existence; Love is timeless; Love is Joy; Love is unselfish; Love cannot be held, it must be given away, Love is unlimited, Love is unconditional; Love has no boundaries; Love has no fear; Love is oneness, the longing to be one with others; Love is a verb; Love attracts Love. It is as though God cannot help himself. His nature is pure Love and he wants us all to share that Love with himself – Our Purpose – if we so choose.
Fulfillment then is to be one with God – to Love God.