Our first reading tells us that God created us humans in his own image, and that sets us wondering. In what ways are we like God?
As products of Catholic schools or C.C.D. classes we know that the Sacraments give us a sharing in supernatural likeness to Christ, but this first chapter of Genesis goes back before Christ and Christians.
This Chapter One of Genesis tells us that every child everywhere in every age was conceived in the image and likeness of God. So, the question is “What is this image and likeness to God that is shared by every human?”
I seem to remember the nuns saying our likeness to God consists in the spiritual side of each of having intelligence and free will. None of the lower animals have those.
On our likeness to God there is a verse from Dante’s Divine comedy that I have repeated many times since I came across it two years ago. Let me lead up to it.
Dante, as a boy in Florence Italy in 1280, was smitten by a nine-year old girl named Beatrice. And although she died in her early twenties, she became the inspiration for all the poetry Dante went on to write.
Dante was thirty–five, and dissatisfied with the life he had been living, when he closeted himself for ten years of work on his Divine Comedy. Its theme had Beatrice in heaven devising a scheme for straightening out Dante. From Limbo she called forth the Roman poet Virgil, commissioning him to accompany Dante on an extended tour through Hell and Purgatory.
Those legs of his journey completed, Dante arrived in Paradise where Beatrice took over as his guide. He was experiencing great happiness in his heavenly surroundings, but there was something puzzling him, and he asked Beatrice about it.
He said that at the same time everything in heaven was new to him it still struck a familiar chord. He asked Beatrice to explain the similarity between heavenly and earthly beauty. The answer she gave might tell us how we share God’s image and likeness.
Beatrice said, “All thing among themselves possess an order, and this order is the form that makes the universe like God.”