The WHY of our Life - Created for Good Works
Fr Luke A. Veronis
What is the “WHY” of our life? Why do we exist? Why are we here on earth? What does our Creator expect from us and what is our purpose and destiny in life?
What motivates us in our lives is discovering the great “WHY” in why we exist! Saint Paul clearly answers this WHY in today’s Epistle reading – “For we are the workmanship of God, created in Christ Jesus for good works.” We were created to do good works in this world; we were created to offer acts of love and works of mercy and grace that will bless others and make the world a brighter place. This is our purpose on earth – we were created to love God by loving others!
Contrast this vision of the great WHY of our life with today’s Gospel story of the Rich Fool. Jesus describes the life of a person whom many of us would envy. This man is so rich that he can retire early. He has so much that he is ready to tear down his old house and build a much bigger one. He’s ready to just relax, take it easy and enjoy life with his abundance of wealth.
An extremely successful man – in the eyes of the world and surely in the eyes of many of us. Who wouldn’t envy his lifestyle?!? Yet, Jesus calls this same “rich, successful man” a FOOL! Be careful. What the world calls a success Christ calls a fool!
Why? What is the sin of this rich man? Was it that he was only thinking of himself? He had much wealth yet he was thinking only about how he could enjoy it all and take comfort in his wealthy and selfish lifestyle. “Let me retire and just play golf all day. Let me retire and enjoy my beach house. Let me retire and travel the world. Let me retire and do whatever my heart desires.” That sounds like a dream for many people. Yet be on guard, what society calls a dream may reveal a selfish and self-centered life, a life focused on fulfilling what I want and not what God wants!
This is why Jesus calls the man a FOOL. The great WHY in his life wasn’t about loving God and loving his neighbor; it was about fulfilling his own desires and enjoying the pleasures of life. It was all about ME. Yet, as followers of Jesus Christ, our life is not our own. Life is not about ME but about WE!!!
Life is all about God and His people. The two greatest commands are to love God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength and to love our neighbor as ourselves. We heard vivid stories about this divine love over the past weeks through the Gospel stories – in the story of the Rich Man and Lazarus, which described a Rich Man living in his extravagant luxury while ignoring the poor Lazarus who sat right outside his doorstep. This Rich Man ended up in Hades because of his self-centered life, a life that ignored those in need right outside his doorstep.
We also heard about the Good Samaritan who showed that love of God demands us to love the one in need whom we pass by on the road every day. We can’t hide behind a false religiosity like the priest and the temple worker who walked right past the half dead man. Loving our neighbor is loving whoever is in need right in front of us through the good works we offer.
Then today we hear Jesus chastise the Rich Fool for his self-centered luxury. “You Fool! This night your soul is required of you; and the things you have prepared, whose will they be? So it is for anyone who lays up treasure for themselves, and is not rich toward God."
Whenever we lay up treasures for ourselves without thinking of the others in need, we are not acting in a manner that is “rich toward God.” Remember, God is in the other person. Whatever we do to the least of our brothers and sisters, we do to Christ Himself. When we “lay up treasures for ourselves,” enjoying our own fantasies and pleasures without thinking of others, whenever we act in an egotistic, self-centered manner, fulfilling only our own desires, we are missing the great WHY of our lives.
“For we are the workmanship of God, created in Christ Jesus for good works.”
Be careful – wealth, money, possessions – are not evil in and of themselves but they are a great temptation. When our goal and dream is to become wealthy, we will be tempted to fulfill our egocentric desires and passions. We may even listen to the lie of the world by basing our success on what and how much we have instead of on what we do to help others. Be careful of “laying up treasures for ourselves” and failing to act “rich toward God.”
Always remember how the Apostle Paul warns us that “the love of money is the root of all evil.” Jesus also reminds His listeners to “be on guard against all kinds of greed.” Wealth, possessions, and our desire for more and more can quickly and unconsciously turn toward greed which then focuses only on ourselves and our own desires.
We must remember that we were created for good works, to act as faithful stewards and caretakers of all we possess, using our wealth and money and possessions not for selfish satisfaction but to use all we have to bless others; we show how much we love God by loving our neighbor. We show how much we love God by giving generously and joyously to those in need.
“For we are the workmanship of God created in Christ Jesus for good works!”
The great WHY we exist is quite simple. We exist to love God and love our neighbor and we experience and offer Divine Love through our good works toward others.
Don’t look at the Jeff Bezoses and Elon Musks of the world and dream about the billionaires and multi-millionaires. Don’t envy those who build larger houses and buy expensive cars and travel the seas in their unbelievable yachts. What the world may think as successful, God may see quite differently.
“You Fool! This night your soul is required of you; and the things you have prepared, whose will they be? So it is for anyone who lays up treasure for themselves, and is not rich toward God."