Are You Smarter than a Fifth-Grader?
Archdiocese of Washington: Year of Faith series
Dominican Brothers of the Province of St. Joseph
Some animals seem to have a pretty clear purpose in life. Bees are at their best constructing hives and making honey, eagles are most majestic soaring high above the trees and a cheetah is at its peak racing across the Serengeti for its prey. So what exactly is the purpose of the human being? Clearly everyone truly wants to be happy in life, but we see people seeking out that happiness in so many different ways.
The true purpose of human life was hinted at in the answer to our last question, where we learned that human beings have a natural desire for God. If we truly understand this desire for God as something natural, it is clear that it is central to our purpose in life as well. This desire for and attraction to God is not something artificial, something forced upon us contrary to our inclinations. In fact, today’s “Are You Smarter than a Fifth-Grader?” question shows that it is a reflection of our reason for being here at all.
There is a certain beauty in the animal kingdom and in creation as a whole, with each piece doing its part for a greater order. Still, most of the wonders of creation are oblivious to their own beauty, and oblivious to their creator. The busy bee, the majestic eagle and the sleek cheetah give glory to God purely by instinct. As the only creature that has been given the gift of reason, the role of the human being in this great order is to come to know and love God’s gift, and through it come to know and love God himself. “[Man] alone is called to share, by knowledge and love, in God’s own life. It was for this end that he was created, and this is the fundamental reason for his dignity.” (CCC 356)
So if we were created to know love and serve God, why did God choose to create us? Some of the answers seem to suggest that God was lonely, or wanted to show off what He could do. We know for certain that God did not need to create anything. As St. Thomas Aquinas says “Creatures came into existence when the key of love opened his hand” (CCC 293). God is all good and all perfect on his own and He lacks nothing and has nothing to prove. His creation is pure benevolence, pure love.
Since God’s creative act is rooted in love, not in some need, the fact that we were created to know love and serve Him is not for His benefit, but for ours. Our natural desire for God, and the living out of that desire by coming to know Him, truly loving Him, and dedicating our lives to Him is the way to finally acquire that happiness we are all seeking. This is man truly at his best.
Join us on December 6th for our next “Are You Smarter than a Fifth-Grader?” post.
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