- The Purpose of Man’s existence
Part 2 – God’s revelation of truth
In Part 1 of “The Purpose of Man’s Existence,” the meaning of life as “eternal communion in God in heaven” was given as the Catholic answer to the question of “why” we exist. More beautifully, we consider that in His Triune nature (that is, the Trinity), God is love and He desires for us to partake eternally of His life of love by creating us in His own image and likeness. Here in Part 2, it is therefore natural to ask “how do we know that God made us for this reason?” Such a reasonable question requires us to consider the sources of Christianity and on what grounds we can say that “the Catholic answer,” if you would, is the whole truth about our existence and our purpose. Accordingly, in this installment, we will consider “how” we come to know that our purpose is eternal life with God.
When it comes to the sources of Christianity (noting that Christianity was one unified faith for approximately the first 1000 years after the Holy Spirit came on Pentecost – even if various errors had arisen throughout Church history up to that point and after), we must once again look to God Himself as the source and origin. In particular, we are able to say that God made us and created us for a particular purpose because (in so many words) God “told us so.”
How does He tell us? This speaking of God is what we call “Divine Revelation.”
Acknowledging that we will consider God’s own inner life and His nature in some depth later on in this series, it is important for us to declare that God is made known to us primarily because God willed to reveal Himself – particularly in His works, including creation and our redemption in Christ. Though we can come to accept that God exists by our human reasoning (such as considering how there must by one reality that is not caused that is the primary cause of all other realities), it is by God’s own willing that we come to know Him fully.
From the beginning of creation, God has willed to reveal Himself – beginning in His creating of all things (all of which expresses something of His infinite glory), down through the generations to whom he offered particular covenants (such as the covenant with Noah, then with Abraham, and above all, His chosen people Israel after delivering them from Egypt). Each of the covenants of old revealed something of God’s own inner nature, along with His plan for His people, all while pointing toward something greater and eternal. Finally, in the “fullness of time” as St. Paul speaks in Galatians 4:4, God sent His Son who delivers us from sin and death, making us truly able to live the fullness of the eternal life for which we are made – and thus, fully revealing all that God wished to reveal to us in this world, by revealing His very divine nature through the sharing in our humanity of Jesus Christ and in Jesus’ saving works. Having thus revealed Himself, it is by way of the Sacred Scriptures and the Sacred Tradition that this revelation of God has been handed on through the centuries, while being guarded and rightly interpreted by the Church’s Magisterium.
Thus, it is by God’s own willing to reveal Himself, culminating in His own taking on of our humanity in Jesus Christ that He shows us all truth necessary for salvation – including our eternal purpose. Next week, we’ll consider our response to this revelation of God.
For further reading: Catechism of the Catholic Church, paragraphs 31-49 consider our own human capacity to know God; meanwhile paragraphs 50-141 go into depth on God’s own revealing of self and how this Divine Revelation is preserved and handed down in the Church. In the Scriptures, Hebrews 1:1-4 is worth a prayerful reading, as this short passage gives a very clear statement of how God fully reveals Himself to us in Jesus Christ.