Saturday, May 21, 2011

"The Desire for God" - Catechism of the Catholic Church

The desire for God is written in the human heart, because man is created by God and for God; and God never ceases to draw man to himself. Only in God will he find the truth and happiness he never stops searching for: The dignity of man rests above all on the fact that he is called to communion with God. This invitation to converse with God is addressed to man as soon as he comes into being. For if man exists it is because God has created him through love, and through love continues to hold him in existence. He cannot live fully according to truth unless he freely acknowledges that love and entrusts himself to his creator.

In many ways, throughout history down to the present day, men have given expression to their quest for God in their religious beliefs and behaviour: in their prayers, sacrifices, rituals, meditations, and so forth. These forms of religious expression, despite the ambiguities they often bring with them, are so universal that one may well call man a religious being:

From one ancestor (God) made all nations to inhabit the whole earth, and he allotted the times of their existence and the boundaries of the places where they would live, so that they would search for God and perhaps grope for him and find him - though indeed he is not far from each one of us. For "in him we live and move and have our being."

But this "intimate and vital bond of man to God" (GS 19 # 1) can be forgotten, overlooked, or even explicitly rejected by man. Such attitudes can have different causes: revolt against evil in the world; religious ignorance or indifference; the cares and riches of this world; the scandal of bad example on the part of believers; currents of thought hostile to religion; finally, that attitude of sinful man which makes him hide from God out of fear and flee his call.

"Let the hearts of those who seek the LORD rejoice." Although man can forget God or reject him, He never ceases to call every man to seek him, so as to find life and happiness. But this search for God demands of man every effort of intellect, a sound will, "an upright heart", as well as the witness of others who teach him to seek God.

You are great, O Lord, and greatly to be praised: great is your power and your wisdom is without measure. and man, so small a part of your creation, wants to praise you: this man, though clothed with mortality and bearing the evidence of sin and the proof that you withstand the proud. Despite everything, man, though but a small a part of your creation, wants to praise you. You yourself encourage him to delight in your praise, for you have made us for yourself, and our heart is restless until it rests in you.

The Misguided and, Unfortunately, "Popular," Flawed Christian View of the End of this World

With all due love and respect to those who entertain the thought, worrying, that a fellow human being could somehow know with certainty the precise date that God's plan will come to fruition/this world will pass away (end) and a new one will be created by Him, recall the words of Christ:

"But of that day or hour, no one knows, neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father." - Mark 13:32

God could not have possibly been any more clear: We will never know the precise date as to when the "end of the world" will be, and thus should not concern ourselves with it.

Like every verse in Sacred Scripture, as human beings with limited/flawed intellects, we fail to recognize the depth of this verse when reading it at face value -- that is, when reading it without taking into account every other verse in the Bible:

In the November/December issue of "The Catholic Answer," Father Ray Ryland, Ph.D., J.D., revealed its depth perfectly when a reader presented him with the following (very common) question:

"When the apostles asked Jesus when the end would come, he told them only the Father in Heaven knows when this will take place (see Matthew 24:36). However, in the Gospel of John, Jesus clearly declares that he and the Father are one (See John 10:30). This being the case, how is it that Jesus states He does not know when the end will occur? If they are one, how can this knowledge be lacking in Jesus? This episode in the Gospel has perplexed me for years."

To which Fr. Ryland responded:

"This seemingly puzzling statement is somewhat like that in Matthew 20:23. There, Jesus tells us granting places of honor in the Kingdom is His Father's prerogative, not His. The traditional interpretation of Matthew 24:36 is that this disclaimer of knowledge of the end of history IS NOT MEANT TO BE TAKEN LITERALLY. Rather, in a somewhat overstated way, it speaks of that which is NOT TO BE DISCLOSED.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church ("CCC") sums up the matter this way:

What he [Jesus] admitted to not knowing in this area [[that is,] the date of His second coming [set forth in] Matthew 24:36], He ELSEWHERE declared Himself NOT SENT TO REVEAL." (CCC, No. 474; see also Acts 1:7).

Thus, ONLY GOD knows when His plan will come to fruition, and Christ was not sent to disclose to mankind precisely when it will occur.

My hope is that more of us will no longer place our faith in fellow human beings, whose knowledge of the future is as limited as our own, and recognize that with each passing second, our time on this earth is closer to the end. Thus we would do well to use our efforts in living lives of unselfish love while we are still being given one of the greatest gifts from our loving God in this life: The gift of time.