Part 1: Creation of Human Beings
We have been looking at God’s creative work: that He created all things that are: creatures that are visible and invisible; that he created from “nothing;” and that he creates through His Word. At the very crown of His creative work is the creation of human beings “in His image,” who are created for their own sake to share in His divine and eternal life. In the next two installments, we will consider God’s creating of human beings and the response to God by our first parents.
Recall that when God carried out His creative work (as given in Genesis 1-2), all that He created was an expression of His interior love – such that it was called “good.” When he created human beings, God did so intentionally, willing to create beings in “his own image,” creating them to and for love. As said in the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC), paragraph 357, within this reality of love are the capacities of self-knowledge and the capacity to freely give oneself to another or others, able to enter into communion – being invited and aided by God’s own life to share in His friendship. Thus, human nature in His image includes being relational – just as God is relational in the Trinity. Further, our human nature is unique as it is a uniting of material (in our human flesh) and the spiritual (in our immortal soul) such that the material and spiritual are not as two entities, but are fully in union as one nature. The Church has long understood this unity of body and soul by stating that the soul is the “form” of the body – where there is one human nature (cf. CCC, paragraphs 362-365). Thus, it is the whole person who is created in God’s image – called to love and be loved.
Given this human nature of the union and body and soul capable of love, it is rightly understood that our dwelling in the created world is also willed by God – that we would be recipients of the beauty of all that is created and stewards of it. In other words, it is proper to the whole of God’s creative work, which he called “very good” (in Genesis 1:31), that human beings would both be in His image and have a share in receiving the beauty of all creation, entrusted as they would be with stewardship of all other visible creatures. Within this stewardship is the call to live in right relationship with God and all of creation, both by rejoicing in the gift of creation, enjoying what God has given; and in sharing in the work of bringing even greater glory to God through creation– by living our human nature in the fullest, most proper way, including in our relationships with one another and in the work that builds up the good of all within creation. Such stewardship therefore rightly includes our particular call – whether that be in the life of marriage and family, or in the life of direct service to God in serving Him and His people – both of which are meant to be fruitful (again, in the sense of marital fruitfulness in its primary way of bringing new life into the world, or the fruitfulness of giving greater glory to God through being true to who we are meant to be in relationship to Him [what we can also call being “holy”]).
After all was created and declared “very good” by God, what remained was the free response of man and woman to all God had made and given to them to share. It is this response and its effect that we will consider in the next installment.
For further reading: In the Catechism of the Catholic Church, paragraphs 355-384 give detail on who we are as human beings, male and female, created in God’s image. In addition, these paragraphs speak of life before original sin in paradise.