Homily on Gen 2:4-9
“…then the Lord God formed man from the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and the man became a living being.”(Gen 2:7).
This passage, heard by millions over the centuries, and overlooked as a simple explanation of the creation of man, is far more than just that. To the ancient Israelites, it was, and to our theologians it still is, jam-packed with explanation and meaning.
Let’s begin with the mere fact that we came from dust. This is in stark contrast to the creation accounts of the neighboring nations to the Hebrew people. The Emun Elish creation has man taken from dragon’s blood. Other accounts have goddesses giving birth to man. But Genesis has man formed directly from the Earth, directly from God’s creation. This ties man not only to the earth itself, but to God’s work, which is always good by nature. Man did not come from evil, or from the spawn of (an often angry) God/Goddess as mythological accounts often show. But man comes from God’s world. From God’s created and beloved earth. And then, the creator breathes life into us. Giving us goodness and life, emanating from his love, and sharing with us in that relationship of love. Making us in His image.
How does God, who is pure spirit and without a physical body make us “in his image”? His image, is not a physical one, but a spiritual image. It is his ability to love, and to be in relationship. God IS Relationship. God IS love. In theology we study this nature in what we call the “Theology of God”. This is the relationship that God has within Himself, within the Trinity. You see, the essence of the Trinity and how the persons of God relate to one another is LOVE. They share a will, a desire, and are always in harmony with one another. This is Love. This relationship that God has with himself is also what he bestows on to mankind. It is His will that we share in this same divine and perfect love that unifies us to the will of God and therefore unites mankind. This is the ultimate goal. As the late Mother Angelica always said, “The essence of the Gospel is LOVE.” Love is why we were made, love is why we exist, and the fulfilment of that relationship of love between men and between God and men is the ultimate will and goal of God. We are made in his image, in that we are made to love.
Our human frailty, our original sin, and our self-centered world keep us from loving as we should, from loving as God wants us to love, and from living up to the image of God that is imprinted upon our souls. So, we as Christians are called to restore ourselves to that original holiness, based on the love that we have been given being made in God’s image. Are we loving our fellow man to our potential? Are we loving God the way he love us? We should constantly examine this.
To quote St. John of the Cross, “In the evening of life, we will be judged on love alone.”