God created mankind in his image, in the image of God he created him, male and female he created them. Genesis 1:27
The first chapter of the Book of Genesis has always been my favorite. As a child, I would find myself reading and rereading the well-known creation story. Especially the verse stating that we are created in God’s image. I would read the words, not fully believe them, but still want more. I would then compare myself to my pet cat or to the tree outside our house and ask, ‘Am I truly unique in that as a human being I was created as a reflection of God?’
With that question, I would go back and read the chapter again. I would imagine the darkness of the earth and think of myself living in the obscurity of my mother’s womb. I would then visualize my birth and my first glimpse of the light. As I became more conscious of the light, the heavens and earth, and of life around me, I would become more aware that we humans are indeed unique in the universe. While our pets have memory similar to ours, they can never imagine their own creation. They are incapable of meditating on Scripture. They will never be able to praise God as we can.
As we become more conscious of our uniqueness, we also become more cognizant of our powerlessness in the absence of God. We are like a mirror, a flat surface made to reflect an image. Without the Lord, we are like a flat, two dimensional, lifeless façade. To become fully alive, we must manifest our Creator in his full glory.
But how do we become fully human as God originally planned? How do we come to know if we are reflecting the Lord clearly? To answer these questions we must look deeply into the heart of our being. Everyday we must examine our conscience and ask if we are truly expressing the Love of God. Have we modeled Scripture and the teachings of the church in our thoughts, actions and prayers? In following the way of our culture, do we also see God’s work in our social structures? If we find that cultural norms conflict with the teachings of the church, do we courageously stand and speak for the presence of Christ in the world?
Humanity is far from perfect. But the church is on a journey to become the true reflection of God. Individuals make mistakes. But Our Lord will always gently bring us back to the right path. One example is when a pope called for the Crusades. Our Lord quickly called St. Francis of Assisi to lead the church back toward peace in the Holy Land. The Crusades ended, and the Franciscan Order continues strong throughout the world.
It seems that to be fully human, we must lovingly live in community as the image of God. We cannot imitate God in isolation. We can only envision God within a loving relationship with another human being. For it is only through loving relationships that we mirror the Holy Trinity, the perfect communion between the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.