Since Monday, the daily Mass readings from the Old Testament have been from the beginning of the book of Genesis, telling of the story of creation.
I must say, I close my eyes, and I can “see” the story unfold before me as I hear the Word proclaimed. The light explodes bursting creation into being, setting the entire cosmos into action. The wisdom of God creates the night and day, the earth and sea, the stars and the sky. In all that He creates and in every step of the way, He looks at each of his creations and sees that “it is good” (Gn 1:4,10,12,18,21,25).
The crowning glory of creation is when He creates man:
“Let us make man in our image, after our likeness…God created man in his image; in the divine image he created him; male and female he created them…God looked at everything he had made, and he found it very good,” (Gn 1:26,27,31)
I ponder that imagery. God delighting in what He makes and in what He sees, but in His being most delighted after creating us! The prophet Zephaniah says, “He will rejoice over you with gladness, and renew you in his love, He will sing joyfully because of you, as one sings at festivals.” (Zeph 3:17-18) I reflect, “Do we live like God delights in us?”
The psalmist tells us:
I praise you, so wonderfully you made me;
wonderful are your works!
My very self you knew;
my bones were not hidden from you,
When I was being made in secret,
fashioned as in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes foresaw my actions;
in your book all are written down;
my days were shaped, before one came to be.
How precious to me are your designs, O God;
how vast the sum of them! (Ps 139:14-17)
I think it’s sometimes very easy to look at creation and marvel at the mountains or the ocean or a little baby. But it’s also sometimes very difficult to look at the creation in the mirror and say, “I praise you Lord that I am fearfully, wonderfully made!”
We need to claim and embrace our dignity as daughters and sons of God created in His image and likeness, and to marvel at His creation staring back at us in the mirror. This starts with a renewal of the mind.
I was lamenting one day to my sister about the effects of time on my girlish figure and how I only look in the mirror from the neck up. She retorted, “Well I figure it’s only gonna’ get worse from here, so I have I think this is pretty good!” I hooted!
She’s right! What is it in us that does this – that makes us not see our own beauty as part of God’s creation? I believe its core is lack of faith and lack of love.
We don’t always see ourselves as being totally and completely loved by God and willed into existence by Him. No matter what scripture reveals to us or the Church teaches, we don’t completely embrace the fact that before we even knew Him, He wanted us first. Each hurt we experience in this “vale of tears” pushes us further from that truth. We need to pray for deep inner healing and forgiveness to allow God to love us and renew our hearts and minds to see ourselves and others with His eyes and heart. Indeed, we are fearfully wonderfully made!
So I ask you: If we are made in God’s image and likeness (Gn 1:26), and God is spirit (Jn 4:24), then why did He give us a body?
We didn’t need to have a body. We could have been pure spirits like the angels. We are embodied spirits. Why? Love is an idea, a feeling, a certain knowing. We cannot see it directly, but we observe it and experience it in the actions of “the other”. Our bodies, fashioned and seen as “very good,” make God’s invisible love visible to the world. We reveal God to the world with our bodies by how we love.
Today’s first reading continues with Genesis chapter 2. In it we hear for the first time that God says something in creation is not good. “It is not good for the man to be alone.” (Gn 2:18) That verse always gets me. I can kind of see God checking things out, tilting His head, and thinking, “Hmmm…”
We hear in Gn 1:26, “Let us make man in our image.” What is God’s image? God is one and three. He is one God, the first person of the Blessed Trinity, and a union and communion of persons: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Made in their image and likeness, we are made for union and communion – to be in relationship with others. We are not solitary creatures. We are meant to give ourselves completely to the other and to receive the other, as well. In this giving the love of the Triune God, Father, Son, and Spirit is manifest to the world.
I invite you to consider these reflections today, and I leave you with two calls to action:
- Pray for healing to grow in the understanding of God’s desire for you personally. You are wanted and loved for all time by the One who wants you with Him forever in heaven.
- Reach out. Do not withdraw. This can be a hard time of year, and Lord knows, for many these past few years have been difficult. If you are in a place of sorrow or loneliness, ask the Holy Spirit to send you someone to reach out to you or to give you the grace to reach out, because it is not good for us to be alone.
We are fearfully wonderfully made! Anne
Heavenly Harmony, Songs for the day: Oh What Love by Cindy Morgan
For your further reading, check out Theology of the Body.
btw, today is the feast of St. Scholastica, twin of St. Benedict. I struggled a lot on whether to write about her or about that which I just wrote. I pray the inspiration was His and today’s words bless you. Click here to learn more about St. Scholastica.