Thursday, 20 October 2016

THE GIFT OF LIFE. An immeasurable treasure of God to Man.



I welcome you all to this wonderful reflection written by Louis Maria Ukaegbu . I enjoined you all to read on and bask yourselves with this spiritual food.
Life is an ambiguous word that cannot be really simplified into one singular meaning, it is universal but yet means much more.
What is life? The above question remains abstract and cumbersome for many people, even for renowned scholars in various fields of study. No definition had been proven to be absolute, because they are different context in which it is being viewed.

Theologically, the aforementioned question is often linked and seen as “ what is the meaning of life” or  “what is the purpose of life”.  In the words of Karl Rahner, Life is the active participation of man in the life of God, in such a way that the earthly life is a reflection of the heavenly life. It crucial to know that life is an experience rather than an abstract principle of vitality which may be distinguished by the body. [1]
Life is sacred in all its circumstances and it is the ability to exercise one’s power to the fullest, the old testament views man who is full of life as a being whose nature is holistic, this simply means that man is made up of body, soul and spirit in a unified way. The soul is the conscious aspect of man and as such, it is sacred because God alone is the Lord of life from its beginning to its end, it involves the creative action of God.[2]
You created my innermost self, knit me together in my mother’s womb.For so many marvels I thank you; a wonder am I and all your works are wonders.[3]

It is essential to know that man is a marvelous work of God , thus  life is a gift of God to man and it  began when God blessed man with  the gift breath. [4]The  psalmist here presented us as an image of God ( imago dei) thus presented God as the ultimate  source and controller of life and all its expressions. Secondly, science and religion seems to agree that life begins at conception.
The old testament poses blood as a sacred sign of life; the covenant between man and God is interwoven , this reminds us  of God’s gift to man which is life. And its teaching holds a strong view of the faith and love of one another, it went to further to admonish us by saying in   “Thou shall not kill”.[5]

The Eucharist a  Source of Life:
Jesus said to them, “I am telling you the truth: if you do not eat the flesh of the son of man and drink his blood, you will not have life in yourselves. Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood have eternal life and I will raise them to life on the last day”.[6]

The church in its congregational and larger expression is a place where we basked in the shalom of our baptismal bond in the body of Christ. This spiritual bond is continually reiterated in the celebration of the Eucharist (thanksgiving).  From the above biblical passage It is crucial to know that the “Eucharist” is indeed a memorial, which makes our sacramental offerings of Christ’s sacrifice present, it in this sacred celebration that the church offers acceptable praise to God the father.

The dogmatic constitution of the Church views the Eucharist as the source and summit of our  Christian faith because, the church draws her life from the Eucharist, this contains the spiritual wealth of the church, which are Christ himself, our Passover and living bread ( through his own flesh which now is  life-giving by the Holy spirit). [7]
Consequently, the gaze of the church is constantly turned to Her Lord present in the celebration of the Sacrament of Altar and through this sacrament she discovers the full manifestation of His boundless love.

The Purpose of Life:
Both during youth and old age, the question of life’s purpose and meaning becomes particularly relevant, but for different reasons. With an infinite future ahead and limitless possibilities and choices, the youth wonders what the purpose of his or her life is and what he or she should do – get married and raise a family, seek further education and a professional career, get a good-paying job, go on a mission’s trip, or a billion other options. The older person who is retired, perhaps widowed, watching friends and family die all around him, also wonders what the purpose and meaning of life is – but for a different reason than the youth does. Choices become more limited. Those things that used to give life purpose and meaning seem to be slipping away.

So this poses the question what is the real purpose and meaning of life? Is it to make a lot of money and be successful? Is it to marry and raise a family? Is it to obtain lots of material possessions – nice car, house, boat, motorcycle, etc? Is it to make lots of friends, be popular and socialize? Come home, eat dinner, watch TV, and go to bed? Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes. But is that all? Is there no greater meaning or purpose to this amazing gift of life? For some, maybe these sources of meaning and purpose are enough—even if most of the time, they don’t quite fulfill.

Why? Because there is something very deep within us that says there is more to life than any of these, that there is something very great and meaningful that we are here for. But what is that purpose?

Sigmund Freud said it bluntly, and he was probably right: “… only religion can answer the question of the purpose of life. One can hardly be wrong in concluding that the idea of life having a purpose [at all] stands and falls with the religious system”.[8] Yes, Freud answers our question: Religion.

Corinthians promises us, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”[9]

So, indeed, God has a purpose and we have been created as part of that purpose and for a purpose. And Jesus tells us what that purpose is – to love and serve God, and to love and serve others – and it’s repeated three times in the Scriptures (Matt 22:36, Mark 12:29, Luke 10:25). It’s really so very, very simple. When we are fulfilling that purpose, then that place deep down inside of us fills up and we experience peace and happiness. When we’re not, and we begin focusing on our own self and our own needs exclusively, then other emotions start flooding in.

There is little question that religious seems to be involve in (i.e., loving and serving God) is related to greater purpose and meaning. During our systematic review of the research literature, we located 45 quantitative studies published in peer-reviewed academic journals. Of those, 42 (93 percent) found that those who were more religious experienced significantly greater purpose and meaning in life, and of the studies with the best research designs, 100 percent reported this finding – every single one[10].

What about loving and serving others? If done in response to Jesus’ directive and as part of loving and serving God, the same applies. Volunteering or otherwise being generous with one’s time and resources to help those in need is one of the most powerful sources of meaning and purpose, and is also tremendously fulfilling (again, if done as an expression of our love for God and as a service to Him, not for appreciation or thanks from the one being served). The scripture is indeed true – all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. Not some things, but all things.

Ralph Waldo Emerson said it this way: “To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. That is to have succeeded.” He also wrote the following “If you love and serve men, you cannot by any hiding or escape the remuneration. [11]

Conclusion:   Life is indeed an essential gift of God to man and in the words of Jose Maria Ecriva; it is the source of all things, as being created in the image and likeness of God( Imago dei), it is crucial to know that life is Christ, who offers us an opportunity to have, not just having  it but having it in abundance, “ Abide in me and I in you”.[12]. It is sine qua non to know that to love and serve God, and love and serve others – are what produces real purpose and meaning of life. It is a universal truth that we cannot escape from.

[1] Rahner Karl, “Encyclopedia of Theology- Sacramentum Mundi”, Published by Herder KG Freiburg Germany. P 846.
[2]  Dominum Vitae, Intro 5.
[3] Psalm 139:13-16
[4] Genesis 2:7
[5] Exodus 20:13
[6] John 6: 53-56
[7] Secon Vatican Ecumenical Council, Dogmatic Constitution of the Church Lumen Gentium, 11.
[8] Sigmund Freud “ Civilization and Its Discontents, 1930.
[9] Corinthians 8:28.
[10] Harold .G. Koenig, “ Handbook of Religion and Health
[11] Ralph Waldo Emerson.
[12] John 15:4


  1. This is really nice and well thought out

    1. Thanks for your comment Mr Paulinus, your comment is highly appreciated.