Sunday, June 1, 2008

Birth and Identity

What are we born for?

Eternal happiness.

God creates us in His image (Genesis 1: 26-27) and because of this, we are destined for eternal happiness. Sometimes this is so easy to forget in our daily lives, in the daily grind, the muck; everything else seems so much bigger. School, work, eating, sleeping, spouses, kids, family, friends, co-workers, volunteering, working out, TV, Internet, cell phones, housework, time to relax. There is so much and sometimes we don't even feel like we have time to do basics like eating and sleeping. And then there are the things we are told will make us happy or we think will make us happy: fame, fortune, a good job, stability, a good marriage, 2.3 children, a nice house, the ability to entertain guests, going on vacations, exotic destinations, a long, healthy life.

"Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth. The former heaven and the former earth had passed away, and the sea was no more....I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, 'Behold, God's dwelling is with the human race. He will dwell with them and they will be His people and God Himself will be with them. He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there shall be no more death or mourning, wailing or pain, for the old order has passed away'" (Revelation 21: 1, 3-4).

God creates us that we might be with Him always and has given us this gift of life that we might learn to come to Him. But this life and this earth shall pass away, nothing here will be eternal except for us and God. We can step out into eternal happiness at any time. I can step out of the muck of my life and into the glory of God at any time. I don't have to just sit here, I can enter the glory.

How do we know God really loves us? How do we know He truly wants this for us? He only directly says He loves us once in the Bible: "Because you are precious in my eyes and glorious, and because I love you" (Isaiah 43:4). God gives everything for us! And then He tells us to love others and He has loved us (John 13: 34). This is the proof. We can know that God loves us through His words in Isaiah, and by the fact that He wants us to follow Him- to love as He loves means to lay down our lives.

Being made in the image and likeness of God means that we are born for eternal happiness, which is God, and we will not fulfilled or satisfied until we rest in Him ("Our hearts are restless, o Lord, until they rest in You" ~St. Augustine). Being made in God's image and likeness also means that we have an identity, and that identity is our belonging to Him. Collectively, we are the sons and daughters of the Most High, of God our loving Father, Brother, and Spouse. Individually, though, we each have a unique, unrepeatable identity. Our names have meanings. For instance, Peter means "rock" and St. Peter was made the rock of the Church, the stronghold on which the Church could be built. Theresa means "harvester", which is someone who gathers the crops, a gatherer of the fruits of the labor, one who brings souls to the Lord. John means "God is gracious". Gracious is graceful, meaning full of grace, and grace is God's love and favor. So John means one to whom God gives his love and favor abundantly. Mary means "sorrowful", "sea of bitterness", and "long awaited child". These can all be seen in the Blessed Virgin Mary, but also in every Mary.

Names reflect part of who we are, they are part of our identity. God loves us each individually to give us a unique identity and way to come to Him, a unique mission. Being born, we are destined for eternal happiness, for God, and our identity shows us our unique path to Him in faith and in love.

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