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The Divine Importance of Our True Purpose
Internet Image from https://www.wikiart.org/en/claude-monet/water-lilies-14
It is not unusual that people define themselves in terms of their profession or their family. For example, someone might say that I am a Priest, Soldier, Lawyer, Doctor, or I am a husband, wife, mom, or dad. How often do we ask a youth, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” The answer to that question is often refined over time but it is implied that we will decide what we want to be based on what we want out of life. The reality is our true purpose is not our choice. Our real choice is whether we will align our lives to the purpose we are given.
The prophet Isaiah writes,
The LORD called me from birth, from my mother's womb he gave me my name. He made of me a sharp-edged sword and concealed me in the shadow of his arm. He made me a polished arrow, in his quiver he hid me. You are my servant, he said to me, Israel, through whom I show my glory. (Isaiah 49:1-3 NABRE)
Traditionally this passage is attributed to a description of our Lord. Yet it applies to us all. From the moment of conception God prepares us all, a “sharp edged sword, a polished arrow”. We each are individually prepared as instruments to achieve God’s purpose. A sharp-edged sword and a polished arrow are formed specially. Consider how a master artist carefully crafts paint brushes for certain purposes and mixes pigments to achieve just the right thickness and color. They are formed exactly to their task. So are we! Therefore, each life is important, special, highly prized from the moment of conception. The loss of any one individual or their failure to achieve their purpose is not a loss that is their own but diminishes creation.
Called and Named
Isaiah tells us that God calls and names us. We are summoned for a specific need as part of God’s divine plan. We have a choice. Love always provides the option to accept or reject. Yet God calls every individual; specially prepared. Do they hear the call? Are they listening? Are those that love them telling them; “listen!”
We are also named, in Hebrew, שֵׁם (šēm). This means that we are given the attributes, the honor, and character to fulfill that calling. So, our purpose, is something which God gives us. We are part of His divine providence. St Teresa of Calcutta described herself not as a Nun or Teacher but, as a “little pencil.” She said,
“I am only a little pencil in the hand of our Lord. He may cut or sharpen the pencil. He may write or draw whatever and whenever he wants. If the writing or drawing is good, we do not honor the pencil or the material that is used, but rather the one who used it.” (YOUCAT 50)
She described her life in terms of God’s plan. That is also how we ought to describe our lives. For when we align our lives with God’s calling, we participate in the great plan of salvation. In God, “we live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:28 NABRE). God is in everything we meet, in all the changes in our life, even in the painful events and the seemingly meaningless coincidences. God wants to write straight, even with the crooked lines of our life. What he takes away from us and what he gives us, the ways in which he strengthens us, and the ways in which he tests us—all these are arrangements and signs of His will. So, when we live in accord with God’s purpose for us, we live in the plan of love, true blessedness. Living that plan is not always easy, nor does it always serve my ego, where everything I do is about me. We are part of a higher purpose, a much grander plan. We are summoned to serve in much larger masterpiece.
Close up of Monet’s Waterlilies 1906 Internet Image from https://www.flickr.com/photos/rocor/6159663445/in/album-72157627970195213/
Dabs of Color and Brush Strokes
I love impressionist paintings. I like the way that the painting of Monet, for example, draws you into the painting itself. The scale and beauty of the work is often breathtaking from a distance. I also like to step very close to the painting and see all the little individual dabs and brush strokes of color that make up the painting. It is amazing! Each shade and shape is exquisitely part of the whole but also beautiful individually. That is how God intends His divine plan. Every life has a tiny, yet critical part to play in the masterpiece of God’s plan for His creation. The Lord tells us that at the last judgement,
… there is nothing hidden that will not become visible, and nothing secret that will not be known and come to light. (Luke 8:17 NABRE)
Sometimes we shrink back in fear of our lives being laid bare in such a manner. But I think that what we will see, if we strive to live up to our Godly purpose, our calling, our name, is how everything we did for the Kingdom brought color and life to God’s masterpiece.
Sin does get in the way of our part of the Masterpiece. In the Gospels, we hear of two betrayals of God’s purpose for both Peter and Judas. We know how the story of both betrayals end. Judas, likely in utter despair of his betrayal, goes and hangs himself. He considers himself beyond redemption. Terribly, he takes his life out of the picture. His sin does not damage the Masterpiece as much as he is simply no longer a part of it.
St Peter also betrays the Lord. Yet, he repents and in sorrow returns to the Lord, accepts His mercy, and three times, declares his love. St Peter is redeemed and the color and life that he brings to God’s Masterpiece is a tremendous beauty.
A Very Important Part of the Masterpiece
God forms each of us as a special instrument and calls us to live out our name from the moment of our conception until the moment of our natural death. He only asks that we strive. In what we lack, the Lord gives us in Himself, through the Sacraments, especially the Eucharist, so that we can truly be the instrument, formed uniquely, to fulfill our destiny in God. This is our joy!
May we all, at the final judgement, step back from our unique shade or brush stroke, and just sigh as we behold the breadth and the beauty of God’s Masterwork. May we all find eternal happiness in how our one life, our color and brushstroke, contributed to its beauty. Now to find or rediscover your divine purpose.
Do you know what it is?
New American Bible Revised Edition (NABRE). Washington, DC: The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, 2011. Print.
Schönborn, Christoph, ed. Youcat English: Youth Catechism of the Catholic Church. Trans. Michael J. Miller. San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2011. Print.
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