The wonderful old Baltimore Catechism tells us that we were made to know and love God, to serve him in this life, and to be happy with him forever in the next. The world’s obsession with material goods and self-centered fulfillment aside, God’s plan is a radical one full of meaning and glory. But that doesn’t really tell us why he made us in the first place. Was he lonely? Was he bored? Did he feel incomplete?
When we look at a night sky or at some of the many exquisite photos of nebulas, solar systems, and planets that technology so wondrously reveals to us, we might imagine that God was merely amusing himself when he called each star into existence (see Psalm 33:6); that he felt the need to stretch his creative muscles when he splashed his dazzling creations across the newborn universe; that in the infinite expanse of his solitude he needed something new and exciting to play with, so he conceived a vast multitude of living creatures in various shapes and sizes, culminating in humanity.
Yes, it seems probable that he thoroughly enjoyed willing the created world into existence: that he laughed joyfully as he set off the Big Bang, whooped as he set the swirling Whirlpool Galaxy into motion, or smiled with pleasure as he created the comical duck-billed platypus.
It is abundantly clear that he is the master of both majesty and mirth. But if we consider salvation history, we can begin to see with certainty that he didn’t do any of it for himself. Compared to all the glories of the universe, God himself is immeasurably more magnificent, humorous, beautiful, and inspiring. What purpose would mere shadows of his glory serve for him? It is so easy for us to misunderstand the mind of God. “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, / neither are your ways my ways.... / For as the heavens are higher than the earth, / so are my ways higher than your ways / my thoughts than your thoughts” (Isaiah 55:8–9).
Instead of wondering what need we fill in the divine heart, it is better to think of God as simply giving us the gift of our lives out of the goodness of his heart. The truth is that God’s infinite being is so complete and so satisfying to himself that he has no need of us whatsoever. The Trinity is the ultimate communion of persons, a family delightful beyond our imaginings. We exist because God is infinitely beautiful, infinitely good, and overflowing with a love that seeks to share itself. When he made us and placed us in this glittering created world, it was an act of pure generosity.
This blog is taken from the book True Radiance: Finding Grace in the Second Half of Life by Lisa Mladinich. A former actress turned Catholic catechist and author, today Mladinich holds up the mirror to our faith in Christ and illumines the dignity and purpose we possess as women made in the image of God.