…In Our ImageFr. Barnabas Powell
Shakespeare’s Hamlet has a character named Polonius and Shakespeare has him utter those now famous words “For the apparel oft proclaims the man.” And then, of course, there’s the famous business advice “Dress for the job you want, not the job you have!” All this focus on apparel makes one wonder if men are unaware of their true selves.
And that, dear one, is seen in the fervent scramble of humanity to “find” itself. Or to give life meaning through some cause or some hobby. Humans trying this and trying that, all in an attempt to make the reflection in the mirror make sense. But, in the end, do the clothes really make the man?”
Look at our Lesson today in Genesis 1:24-2:3:
And God said, “Let the earth bring forth living creatures according to their kinds: cattle and creeping things and beasts of the earth according to their kinds.” And it was so. And God made the beasts of the earth according to their kinds and the cattle according to their kinds, and everything that creeps upon the ground according to its kind. And God saw that it was good.
Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth.” So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. And God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air and over every living thing that moves upon the earth.” And God said, “Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit; you shall have them for food. And to every beast of the earth, and to every bird of the air, and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food.” And it was so. And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, a sixth day.
Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. And on the seventh day God finished his work which he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had done. So God blessed the seventh day and hallowed it, because on it God rested from all his work which he had done in creation.
The gift of life that God grants His world is priceless, but the story of Genesis isn’t meant to answer all questions regarding the origin of life. The focus of Genesis is the story of Creation, and specifically the creation of humanity. No where else does Moses use words like he uses words to describe God’s making of humanity. Look at how and why God made us.
First, the revelation of the Holy Trinity when God says “Let us make man in our image…” Father, Son, and Holy Spirit create humanity in the image of God so that humanity can be “like” God; Persons in Communion. Why do you think God separated the male and the female in His Humanity? So that we humans can learn the valuable wisdom of working to be in communion.
Next, God blesses His Humanity. He commands them to “be fruitful and multiply.” He tells them to “fill the earth and subdue it…” Why? Because this will also teach the Humanity responsibility and communion. None of these words by God to His Humanity are meant to give license to Humanity to exploit, but to be stewards of the GIFT of Creation. How else will we learn to be “like” God?
Finally, “it was very good.” The perfect setting had been made. The perfect situation had been created. The perfect couple had been set in the Garden to begin the process. Everything was provided. Everything was “good.”
Today, even with all the confusion about what we humans are meant to be, wisdom insists we go back to the beginning and search out our purpose and our destiny. We were made FOR Him and to be LIKE Him. Whatever fosters communion and proper stewardship of God’s good gift is where we will find our truest selves. Seeing Jesus as The One Perfect Humanity helps us to become Orthodox on Purpose!
P.S. It’s great to be back! But, did you miss last Sunday’s Faith Encouraged LIVE? We had a wonderful program about the outreach tool Faith Encouraged Ministries produced called “A Journey to Fullness.” This 16 part video series plus workbook is meant to help you and your parish share the Orthodox Faith with those around you! Just go to our archives page and listen! Oh, and order the series as well!