502 years ago today Michaelangelo‘s Sistine Chapel ceiling frescoes were ‘completed’. I am sure that there was no coincidence in the date: the feast of All Saints was a most appropriate day to dedicate this masterpiece of art.
Michaelangelo’s ceiling tells the story of God’s action in human lives: the encounter of the ultimate plan of God in human history.
And three years ago on this All Saints feast we learnt that the population of the world had reached 7 billion.
So why has God created us all? What was God’s plan and purpose in setting each of us on this earth to be participants in the history of salvation?
Those who remember their catechism have the answer: Q. Why did God make you? A.“God made me to know Him, to love Him, and to serve Him in this world, and to be happy with Him for ever in heaven”.
Take a moment to consider this sound answer. Note the two ‘dimensions’ of our eternal relationship with God.
In our baptism we began this journey towards ultimate intimacy with God. For me this journey began on 10 September 1961 in the Otematata Church, North Otago. This first stage of life continues until our death. In our earthly years we experience joy, hope, grief and anxiety. In every moment we are offered saving intimacy with God. The deepest desire of the human person is not to be free of grief and anxiety. Instead our deepest longing is ‘to know, love and to serve God, and to be happy with him forever.’
And death is the moment of transition from the first ‘dimension’ of human existence, into the eternal realm.
The purpose of human life is not primarily to please and appease God. Rather our human purpose is found when we know our desire for God above all else. When we rest with this desire, especially in the midst of struggle and suffering, we experience God’s presence and peace.
This life is the life of the saint.
In today’s feast we celebrate those who have followed this path on earth, and who now share the eternal fullness of divine life in the Communion of the Saints.
Happy feast day!