By Father Jacob Dankasa
Special to The Texas Catholic
I remember growing up and learning catechism using the question-and-answer format of the simple catechism of the Catholic Church, which was mainly memorization. I still remember very well many of the questions and answers because they have stayed in my head. The first two questions of the Simple Catechism are especially memorable. The first question asks: Who made you? Answer: God made me. The second question: Why did God make you? Answer: God made me to know Him, love Him and serve Him in this world, and be happy with Him forever in the next.
These are very simple question and answer memorizations, but I have found them to be very profound, especially for children. It was only a memory task for me then, but now as an adult these lessons have become more meaningful to me as I grow in my faith and understand them with more clarity. The second question is especially important for my reflection in this article on the purpose of our creation — why God created us humans. The old catechism names three purposes of creation; it says that God created us to know him, to love him and to serve him, but it also adds a fourth purpose which comes as a reward if we fulfill the first three purposes — to be happy with him forever in heaven. If we follow this statement to its logical conclusion, enjoying happiness with God forever depends on how we live out our own particular purpose here on earth. Simply put, it depends on the fruit we bear. Therefore, each of us holds the key to our own eternal happiness: know God, love God and serve God. This is an indication that God desires the best for us, and it’s up to each of us to grab it!
How, then, do we live out our purpose here on Earth, the reason that each of us individually was created? Part of the answer to this question can be found in the model of the vineyard presented in Isaiah 5:1-7. Isaiah gave us a description of a vineyard, saying that the owner took his time to prepare it: “He spaded it, cleared it of stones, and planted the choicest vines; within it he built a watchtower, and hewed out a wine press.” But after all the time and effort he took to prepare it, when harvest time came “he waited for the crop of grapes, but it yielded rotten grapes.” After all the hard work in the vineyard, the vines did not fulfill the purpose for which they were planted – to yield good fruit.
This tells us about our relationship with God and the purpose for which he created us. God is the owner of the vineyard, the Earth is the vineyard, and we are the vines — the choicest plants in the vineyard. We are especially made by God to grow in knowledge of him, in his service and in his love. Like the owner of the vineyard in the Isaiah passage, God is disappointed with us when we deviate from this purpose. Our relationship with God can be distorted, based on the type of fruit we produce as his creatures. God did not plant “counterfeit grapes” in his vineyard; he planted the “choicest vines.” We are not counterfeit — we are special creatures of God, each with a purpose, and as Christians we must live like true sons and daughters, not counterfeits. When we perpetually deviate from the purpose of God’s creation, we become counterfeits of our own making. Because we are special in the eyes of God, we have all been given the special ability to live good lives — good, fruit-bearing lives. Unfortunately, we sometimes choose a counterfeit life of lukewarmness and submission to all that is evil. We are all sojourners to the eternal kingdom — our final destination, but to get there, we must live out the purpose of our creation — to know God, to love him and to serve him unreservedly.
Let us always remember that the purpose of our life on Earth is to live, not for ourselves, but for God. And the ultimate purpose of our existence is so to live as to be happy with him in heaven. Don’t miss this opportunity.
Father Jacob Dankasa is a parochial vicar at St. Gabriel the Archangel Catholic Church in McKinney and a regular contributor to The Texas Catholic.