Have you ever asked yourself the question, where did I come from? No, I don’t mean your city or town of birth, the names of your parents, or even the street you were on before you made a few turns and realized you were lost. Where did you come from? Where were you before you existed in your mother’s womb? Who made you? These questions about our origin and existence are fundamental questions that men and women have been asking themselves since the beginning of their existence…Wait…here we are at the question again…When was the beginning? What happened in the beginning? Where did I come from?
These are the kinds of questions my high school religion teacher used to ask us during our 7th period class everyday. He was and still is a very holy, humble priest who teaches full time and serves as the chaplain at the cancer home of the Missionaries of Charity in his “free time.” His mission is to transmit the beauty and the richness of the Catholic faith and of a personal relationship with Jesus Christ to his high school students. But most of all, he teaches them to think for themselves. I’m sure he realizes that teaching juniors and seniors is a pretty daunting task, but nevertheless, he gives them the truth without any fluff in the hopes of preparing them to enter “the jungle”…in other words…college. He certainly accomplished his goal in my life and now I’m attempting to pose to you some of the same questions that challenged me to really think.
We can begin our discovery of the answer to the question “where did I come from?” by reading from the very first line of the Gospel of St. John. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God and all things came to be through him, and without him nothing came to be.” (John 1:1)
What does this tell us? First, let’s define some terms. As Catholics we believe that Jesus Christ is the Second Person of the Trinity (along with the Father and the Holy Spirit) and that he is the “Word of God.” When we read this line of John’s Gospel, we can see that before all things were created God existed. There wasn’t a time when God did not exist. And He not only existed but he created. “All things came to be through him” and “without him nothing came to be.” God also created time, and he is outside of it. We are bounded by time, but God is not.
We can think of God’s creation like an artist who creates a work of art, let’s say a painting. When he begins, he only has a blank canvas before him, then he slowly beings to add color, expression, light, and little by little a masterpiece is created. When God created the earth all he had before him was “a formless wasteland” as we read in Genesis. God spoke the words “let there be light” and then light came into existence. God spoke. He merely said the word and things began to exist. He created the heavens and the earth, and then he created man. We all know the story well, but how often do we ponder this truth? God created me. I’m sure there are some skeptics out there, but the fact is that if God did not create me, I am purely a culmination of chance. We are not just products of chance; we are the result of a thought and a word spoken from Almighty God. “Each of us is willed and each of us is necessary” writes Pope Benedict in his first speech as the new Pope.
God gave existence to all created things; he alone is the Creator, and everything that exists is held in existence by him. In other words, if God ceased to think of me I would cease to exist. God wasn’t just the all powerful clockmaker who made the world, hit the start button, and then left us to tick on our own until the batteries run out. No! God not only created us, but he created us out of love, as a Father. He is the all powerful, all perfect Father who is all love. He didn’t create me because he needed me, nor did he create this morning’s sunrise because he needed to see the beautiful colors fill the sky. St. Thomas Aquinas writes the following: “Creatures came into existence when the key of love opened God’s hand.” He created me and continues to hold me in existence because he loves me and because he loves the world he created!
Knowing that we are created is the first step to having a relationship with God. Now that we know where we come from and we realize that we come from a person…a divine person…a Father…our lives have a purpose. We are children of a divine Father and by our very creation God invites us to enter into a relationship with him. He wants to establish a covenant, a life commitment of love with each of us. “And now, Israel, what does the Lord, your God, ask of you but to fear the Lord, your God, and follow his ways exactly, to love and serve the Lord, your God, with all your heart and all your soul, to keep the commandments and statutes of the Lord which I enjoin on you today for your own good? (Deuteronomy 10:12) What will you say to the One who created you, thinks of you, and loves you?
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