Why are we here? What is our purpose?
It always amazes me how in different ages and generations and cultures, we have asked these questions and relied on popular culture to define the answers for us. Our current culture seems to believe we are here to get more, to take more and to have more regardless of how we get it.
In years gone by, some of us learned about our faith and our relationship with God through the Catechism. In the old Baltimore catechism which some of us are familiar with, the question of ‘Why are we here?” was answered; “we are here to know God, to love God and to serve God in this life so as to be with Him in the next.”
This wasn’t some discovery that the Church came up with in the 1930’s or 40’s or 50’s as an answer that would change depending upon what current popular thought suggested.
This was not just an ‘opinion’ thought up by those who drafted the catechism.
This is a truth revealed by God. During his lifetime on earth, Jesus spoke of it often.
We have this truth highlighted in the Gospel account of Saint John of the Passion of our Lord.
During his trial before Pontius Pilate, while he is being questioned by the governor, Jesus responds to Pilate’s questions about His kingship, “For this I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice.”
And Pilate responds with the famous, almost sarcastic, “What is truth?”
After having suffered through the temptation to follow his own will rather than God’s in the garden of Gethsemane; after having been betrayed by one of his closest followers, one of the 12 chosen; after having been abandoned by all of his friends and disciples; and even knowing the agony and suffering that is immediately before Him, Jesus is quite clear and unwavering. His purpose in coming into the world, in being born is to testify- to give example and evidence- to the truth; this truth is not some relative thing that depends on an individual’s point of view; this truth is not something that comes and goes with fashion or trends.
This ‘truth’ is the revelation by God of the reality of His existence in the person of Jesus. God is truth – God is love – and Jesus, being the Son of God, is God – earlier in this same Gospel, Jesus tells his disciples during the last supper ‘I am the way, the truth and the life’.
He uses the name of God “ I am” in explaining the absolute reality of who He is. He is God – He is THE truth – He IS love – He IS life – and those who belong to the Truth- to God – listen to His voice.
And because from the time of our separation from God – the fall of our first parents – we trapped ourselves into an existence of death and suffering – because the only way to restore our union with God was to restore the broken covenant with God – because it had to be a human that repaired that human ‘breach’ of the covenant – God comes to us in the person/the humanity of Jesus and fulfils that part of the covenant- the sacrifice which reunites us to God.
Only God could do it -and only in the person of Jesus; that is THE truth…..the truth of the depth of God’s love for us …that he would sacrifice His only Son….the truth of our own immortality and unity with our Creator… this is a truth that can never change with the times or trends.
But there could be no Resurrection without the crucifixion- and so it is for us as well; we all have our share of sorrows and joys, disappointments and triumphs, sufferings and strengths; but we can unite our sufferings with Our Lord’s; because we enter into the death and resurrection of our Saviour through Baptism, becoming adopted children of God.
And as the daughters and sons of God – as the adopted sisters and brothers of Jesus, why are we here?
We are also here to testify to the truth – to give example and evidence of the reality and love of God by our own lives- and like Jesus we are called to put this truth above all else – above ourselves. By opening ourselves to the grace of God through His Word and the Sacraments we come to know God; we come to love God; and we are strengthened to serve God in this life; and thanks totally to the sacrifice of Jesus by his death; we are able to live with God in the next life because the truth of the Resurrection has been handed onto us by Christ Himself.
Participating in the Commemoration of the Lord’s Passion and Death we have the opportunity to venerate the cross – to express our love, gratitude and appreciation for the agony that Jesus suffered on our behalf; by touching or kissing the cross, or making some other sign of reverence.
It is a perfect time to affirm in our own hearts that we belong to the crucified Christ as much as we belong to the resurrected Christ; that we belong to the truth and listen to His voice, no matter what it may cost us during our lives…that we believe He is God and we wish to know, to love and to serve Him in this life, so as to be with Him in the next.
Praised be Jesus Christ, now and forever!