Some time ago when I was teaching a religion class in the 7th grade of my former parish, I asked the students: “How are we made in the image and likeness of God?” Obviously, we all can’t look like God physically. But we do have two qualities or characteristics in particular, that make us like God—our intelligence and our free will.
Look at a young child. From his or her earliest days there is the desire to know. “What’s this?” “Why? “ The child asks questions. In fact, we should all want to know various things throughout our lives. Our minds seek knowledge.
We also experience the ability to make free choices. We can say “yes” or “no.” We can do something or choose not to do it. We will usually choose that which we think will make us happy as opposed to something that will hurt us. Essentially we seek love—we want to love and be loved—which will fulfill our deepest human desires.
In the end, human beings are designed in such a way by the Creator to seek knowledge and love. And where do we find all knowledge and all love? Only in God! It is God alone who will be able to satisfy the deepest longings of the human heart. I refer to the well-known quote of Saint Augustine: “You have made us for Yourself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless, until they can find rest in You.” Confessions, Book I, Chapter I
Sometimes people are deceived in their search for love. We may get caught up instead in the glamour of evil. We look for love in all the wrong places. We accept that which may appear to be good for us and which we think may bring us the happiness that we seek. But we are fooled. Whatever it was that we chose didn’t quite live up to expectations. It only appeared to be good—most likely it was only temporarily pleasurable, and, ultimately, could be harmful to us.
I think that’s why addiction is so commonplace in our society. We keep trying to fill the void in us with the things that the world deceptively offers as “good” (alcohol, drugs, illicit sex, pornography, gambling, excessive computer or TV usage, excessive shopping, etc.) rather than with God. Only God can fill the void. Everything else is a false god and will fall short of expectations. I can guarantee it.
Jesus gave assistance to us along life’s journey to make it easier for us. He gave us Himself in the Most Holy Eucharist to satisfy the deepest longings of the human heart. “Amen, amen I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life within you.” (John 6:53) We run the risk of being spiritually empty without Jesus. It seems pretty clear to me that Jesus (and the early Church) was quite definitive with this message. Therefore, it is a no-brainer that we need to participate in Mass regularly and to receive Holy Communion frequently. Otherwise, we will wind up seeking that which we really need—God’s love—in some other unsatisfying place. . .
. . . and being unhappy in the process.
Fr. Ed Namiotka