The Nature of Things
The Second Vatican Council in a document called Gaudium et Spes or "Joy and Hope" teaches, "if man is the only creature on earth that God has wanted for its own sake, man can fully discover his true self only in a sincere giving of himself" (GS 24). What a great line! This notion gets at what will make us truly happy and ties it to the kind of thing we are. We are created by God, not for the use of something else, but for our own sake. We are the part of creation willed by God as the culminating point of creation. We are created in his image and likeness. We are happy in the way that God is happy by a sincere gift of ourselves.
The things wrapped up in this teaching of the Church lead us to many of the ideas that our culture, perhaps our co-workers, find difficult. At the root of the teachings of the Church which people find difficult is going to be that we are created in God's image and likeness and that we are happy only by a gift of ourselves. The kind of thing we are is that we are made in the image and likeness of God. The way that we are happy -- the way that we are good -- is by doing things that God does -- by giving ourselves so that others can live.
This is why the same document of the Second Vatican Council can say, "In reality it is only the mystery of the Word made flesh that the mystery of man truly becomes clear" (GS 22). The Word of God, the Second Person of the Trinity, took on a human nature, and showed us how to be happy, how to give ourselves completely so that others can live. He did this in a very literal way on the cross, but it is also how He chose to live his life in the service of others. Much of the Church's teachings that the world finds difficult are tied also to this image. While we don't mind hearing about God who came not to be served but to serve, who offers his life for us, we might mind more when something is brought to our attention which tells us that we are not living for others as much as the Lord might hope. At the root of it all is that we are made in the image and likeness of God and that we are happy by giving of ourselves so that others might live.
Last week's homily suggestion: Last week, we unrolled the Diocesan Annual Appeal. Please consider giving of yourselves and your means to support the many apostolic activities of Christ's Body in the diocese of La Crosse. And remember that the Diocesan Annual Appeal is the best way for you to give your whole dollar to the parish.