Today’s word is “purpose”.
Not “porpoise” as in the mammal that swims in the sea.
Today’s Gospel brings to my attention, my mind…to focus on purpose.
John’s purpose is to point out Christ, to reveal him to others,
to name him for what he is....for who he is.
John’s purpose is to focus the attention of others on God’s presence among them.
Jesus’ purpose.....at least as it is mentioned today...
Jesus’ purpose is to “take away the sins of the world.”
One way we use the word is to indicate intention: “you did that on purpose!”
Most of us have made such a statement...probably within the last week.
If we didn’t speak it....we at least thought it.
It implies a feeling of opposition. You know “you did that to aggravate me”.
But this isn’t the “purpose” I’m referring to.
Webster defines purpose as “....something set up as an object or an end to be attained.”
This is the “purpose” I’m thinking of...striving to attain a goal.
Now that I’m old, what is my purpose?
Now that I’m a widow or widower, what is my purpose?
Now that I’m divorced, what is my purpose?
Now that I’ve retired, what is my purpose?
Now that my children are grown and on their own, what is my purpose?
In sickness and suffering, what is my purpose?
What it your purpose?
What is our purpose?
At the moment, my purpose is to lead you in prayer....
my purpose is to cultivate and nurture your faith.
Our purpose together, right here, right now, is to worship God....
not just with our words,
not just with our ritual actions of standing and sitting and kneeling and responding
but with hearts that are captured by God
with minds that are directed towards God.
Our purpose is to be engaged, to be on board, to have our head in the game.
The Catholic Catechism calls this...“full, conscious and active participation.”
The purpose of the Mass is to sanctify us, to make us holy.
When it comes to life in general…what is our purpose?
At the most basic level,
our purpose as living human beings, is to stay alive.
This purpose is part of the divine design, the divine order of things.
That’s why abortion is so evil.
It contradicts, if violates the very purpose of being human.
And the word “evil” is appropriate:
Evil spelled backwards is “live”
and that’s what evil is....it is all that is opposed to life.
So our purpose is to say alive.
But it’s more than that...our purpose is to thrive.
Our purpose is to grow and mature and be fruitful.
The purpose of our bodies is to house our spirit
and the purpose of our spirit is to animate our bodies.
The purpose of our sexuality is to intimately connect us to another
so as to procreate, proliferate the human species, generate offspring.
We have another purpose, one that lies beyond this material world,
a transcendent purpose.
Our purpose, the end which we are created to attain,
is to be in communion with God forever.
This brings us back to our purpose for being here.
God has a plan, a purpose for his human creation….
….a purpose to live in goodness, love and truth.
This purpose was crippled and is crippled by sin.
And so God’s purpose through history has been to restore what was lost because of sin.
To this ends, God established a covenant with his people, a sacred agreement.
It took effect on Mt. Sinai. Through Moses, God instructed His people…
gave them “da rules”, the 10 commandments.
The purpose of this covenant was to prepare for the coming of the Savior.
In the fullness of time, God sent the Savior: His Son, Jesus Christ.
Jesus’ purpose, then, is to fulfill God’s plan of redeeming love,
to restore to God what was lost through sin.
One way Jesus fulfills this purpose is by proclaiming the Gospel.
The purpose of the Gospel is to call us to conversion, to the change God wants to make,
" to transform humanity from within and to make it new".
In response to the Gospel, our purpose is to grow in the stature of Christ....to become Christ-like.
By way of the Gospel, we are given the opportunity to receive God’s Spirit.
This Spirit and the material world are in conflict.
The material world hinders the purpose of God’s Spirit given to the human heart
and that purpose is the achievement of love.
I can’t remember ever hearing a commercial for this or that product saying
“this will help you achieve the purpose of becoming a more loving person.”
And I have never heard of a company trying to attract employees saying
“our purpose is to help you become a decent human being.”
By comparison, these are purposes of the Catholic Church…
to instruct us in our faith.
to guide us along a path marked out for us by God,
to encourage us and help us live according to Gospel values and standards,
to convince us to live our faith with firm purpose, with resolve.
The Church has an eschatological purpose….to make us ready for the final judgment;
to prepare us for heaven;
to prepare the world for the coming of Christ.
Our purpose as members is to share in the mission of the Church,
to continue the work of Jesus Christ,
to proclaim and make known his message,
to give witness to the power of his love.
The good news in all this
is that we can change our purpose, alter our goals,
redirect our striving, reorient our efforts, our activities…
we can do these things at any time.
We have the power and freedom to choose a new purpose, a deeper purpose,
a more life-giving, a more joyful purpose.
When it comes to God
do not settle for a purpose that is shallow or frivolous…paltry and meager.
Reach farther, beyond self-imposed limits.
Don’t just reach for the stars….reach beyond the stars.
That’s where you’ll find your greatest purpose.
Live life with purpose: sound purpose, loving purpose, virtuous purpose.
And then when you get to the pearly gates…
and God says “you’ve lived a pretty good life”
you can say with confidence and conviction: “I did that on purpose!”
And just watch….you’ll see….God will smile….because His purpose has been attained.
Our prayer today: “O Lord, you are the reason behind my life. Become the purpose that guides my life. Help me to accept, assimilate, and celebrate Your purpose of saving my soul from sin. Amen!”
2nd Sunday in Ordinary Time
Today’s word is “purpose”.