“For this purpose have I come,” said the Lord, referring to His mission to preach.
To preach what? The good news that God loves each and all of us with infinite intensity. That our sins can be forgiven and washed away forever. That the heavenly Father cares about us and has a plan to get us to heaven.
Why does the Church exist? Here is how Vatican II answers that question, in the Decree on the Apostolate of the Laity:
For this the Church was founded: that, by spreading the Kingdom of Christ everywhere for the glory of God the Father, She might lead all men to share in Christ’s saving redemption, and that through them the whole world might in actual fact be brought into relationship with Him. (paragraph 2)
To spread the Kingdom of Christ everywhere. Which is what glorifies God, Who receives glory when people acknowledge His only begotten Son. Which is how we come to be redeemed, since He is our only Redeemer. Redeemed, so that we—and the world in its entirety—might have a bona fide relationship with our Maker and Final Goal.
Church roofs stands over our heads; church furnaces churn; parking lots got paved; the coffee brews in our church pots—all for one reason: so that we—and everyone—can have a relationship with the One Who was sent to preach good news to the poor.
Since our God came to the earth on a mission of mercy and redemption, having a relationship with Him is completely different from having a relationship with anyone else. Unlike everyone else, Christ our God relentlessly loves us with an intensity that has no limit and with a patience that never runs out.
There may be other people who know us even better than we know ourselves, but Christ knows us infinitely better even than they do.
So this all-important relationship with Him differs completely from all our other relationships. And yet it’s actually not that different at all. In that it takes work, steadiness, humility, and rigorous honesty. As long as we walk this earth, we are not done working on it.
No work, no honesty: no relationship. Christ loves us infinitely and has infinite patience. But no other relationship requires such searching honesty on our parts.
He came to reveal the Divine Mercy, to declare the forgiveness of sins, and to bring about the only justification we could ever have for ourselves–by dying with infinite love for us on the cross.
I marched into my local cellphone retail location to claim the free phone upgrade that my diligent perseverance in my plan had merited. By a kind of miracle, I managed to walk out with a phone that works exactly like my old phone worked. All the buttons, everything—exactly the same. Praise God.
But does this accomplishment make me a worthwhile individual? By no means. Only the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross makes me a worthwhile individual.
I could personally invent a way in which no one would ever have to endure a learning curve on any technological “device;” I could devise technology that rendered every 1-800 technical support number absolutely obsolete, and no one’s mother or grandmother would ever call them, asking how to upload onto her iPad music that she has on her iPhone. But even if I did that, that still would not make me a worthwhile human being. I would still be a craven sinner with no hope, if it weren’t for Jesus Christ and His sacrifice.
You know what I think will make us more evangelical? More of a leaven for justice and peace in our community?
If we all went to Confession more often. If I start with myself and my relationship with the One Who died because of my sins. Especially the sins which I have heretofore been too obtuse or too lazy to acknowledge.