Meditation on God’s Providence (3)
Part 1: Man’s Chief End
For many modern minds the proposition that “man” does indeed have an “end” is controversial. That there is a transcendent, omnipotent being that has chosen in His perfect wisdom to endow human life with meaning is an affront to their reason.
To insist that man has an end is a stinging rebuke to the philosophy of materialism that has penetrated so many postmodern (and modern) minds. The Church has too often underestimated this belief system’s impact on both our culture and its own flock. For with materialism comes the freeing option of meaninglessness. That is, we are free to do as we please because life at its core has no meaning or purpose.
Such a proposition would have been absurd to Abraham and Sarah. Yes, they lived in a very material world. They worked exceedingly hard to master the practical skills required to survive and prosper in that horizontal dimension of existence. Yet they also moved in a vertical relational dimension to their LORD God that was just as real and of much greater significance.
That significance flowed from God to them, as opposed to being sourced within them. This too is a reproach to our postmodern, self-centered mind-set. We too often view our end as beginning and ending with our own desires. The notion that our end is by design to be subordinate to anything else, even the LORD God, flies into the teeth of the radical individualism that under girds so much of our culture’s life.
But lest we too strongly stress humanity’s subordinate status, the amazing extent to which God apparently bends to accommodate our wills must be accounted. Yes, God’s will is inexorable. But it’s as if it’s inexorable within the context of our free wills.
- the theory that physical matter is the only reality and that psychological states such as emotions, reason, thought, and desire will eventually be explained as physical functions
- devotion to material wealth and possessions at the expense of spiritual or intellectual values