On this page
Creation of Mankind
Mankind is the high point of creation. Separate from all the rest of creation, Mankind is made to share by knowledge and love in God’s life and through the scriptures beginning with those first chapters of the book of Genesis Man is described as being made 'in the image of God'.
Date: 12 Jan 2020
Mankind is the high point of creation. Separate from all the rest of creation, Mankind is made to share by knowledge and love in God’s life and through the scriptures beginning with those first chapters of the book of Genesis Man is described as being made 'in the image of God'. The book of Genesis (in the first of the two creation stories) describes God breathing His own life into the man and woman he has formed from clay. Unlike other animals the human individual is a person, with full self knowledge, freedom and the ability to enter into communion with other persons. Another way of putting this is that each of us is free to make the choice to give ourselves in love to another person, not for personal gain but simply out of love, and that in doing this we become truly human. The fullness of this Divine image in which we are created will be revealed when Christ gives himself out of love for us on the cross.
The spiritual heart of the human person is the soul, that part of a person where the image of God is most clear. Created by God at the moment of our conception the soul united to our bodies forms one indivisible human person. This is why, even though we know that our bodies come into being and start to grow at the moment of our conception, we still say that God creates each one of us. Because what makes us human is the unity of body and soul and that spiritual soul is created and joined to our bodies by God at the very moment of our conception.
The differences and complimentarily between man and woman are part of God's creation and part of the truth of what we mean by Man. Genesis makes this clear when it says ' God made man, - in the image of himself He created Him, male and female he created them'. This reveals both the difference, the uniqueness of each person, but that each person is created to give themselves in love to another. There is a beautiful moment expressing this in the second creation story in Genesis. God shows all the animals he has created to the man - but the man finds no helpmate, no soul mate amongst them, so God put the man into a sleep and creates a woman from his rib and the man says 'at last this is flesh of my flesh' this is someone like me someone I can love, someone I can give myself to. And, says the writer of Genesis, this is why a man and woman must leave their families and be joined together and become one flesh. A human person is made to enter into loving communion with another.
Scripture and Tradition interpreted by the Church reveals that mankind was created in a state of holiness and justice. In harmony with God, with creation and with each other mankind did not know death. Sin can only be understood in all its darkness by those who recognise the importance of our relationship with God. Only in view of the relationship between man and God is sin seen in all its darkness. In the light of God’s loving plan we see sin as primarily the abuse of God‘s gift of freedom to love. It is in Jesus Christ that the full tragedy of sin and the necessary means to overcome it is revealed. The angels too have the gift of free will and Scripture speaks of angels who radically and irrevocably rejected God and his reign. Satan, the devil, one of these angels is seen as responsible for tempting our ancestors away from God – Just as Satan tempts Jesus in the desert.
Scripture speaks of an Original Sin by our first ancestors, (a sin which sums up all sin) a choice of self before God, of desire before obedience, of lies before truth (brilliantly summed up in the story of the forbidden fruit). This choice which destroyed the harmony between God and humanity, between man and woman and between humanity and creation, seriously damages God’s creation especially human nature and death enters the world. The effects of Original Sin, including the damage to human nature and the loss of that harmonious relationship with God are transmitted to us all by virtue of the fact that we all share human nature.
But the Word of God is always hope filled and from the moment of the fall the redemption is promised. Have you ever wondered why Mary is shown standing on a snake? The story of that first sin and of the damage done to Man and to God's creation ends as Man is cast out of the Garden of Eden, with God saying to the serpent "I shall put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; it will bruise your head and you will strike its heel.' Tradition has always seen in this the first prophecy of the offspring of Mary, the new Eve, Jesus the Saviour, who will bring blessings far greater than those lost by Original Sin. It is to Jesus we turn next week.