Fr. Enrico Parry, Diocese of Oudtshoorn, South Africa
WE ARE INVITED TO BE A FAMILY OF GOD AS GOD IS
I often wonder if the authors of Genesis made a mistake when they wrote that the Lord made us in his image and likeness. For we are honestly so unlike God. Scriptures tell us that in various places. In the liturgy we repeat it faithfully. One only has to look at the news feeds of the day to know. Or turn to the pages of one’s own life story. God certainly does not look like the humanity we find there. The humanity that we know looks like what that hymn, Amazing grace, calls in song, “a wretch like me”. Could it be why there is that phrase in Psalm 8: “what is man that you should keep him in mind?”
Our observation sounds reasonable, then, that there must be a mistake with that image and likeness story. Not so, says our faith. We are certainly made in God’s image and likeness. If our faith affirms it, then we will search for this likeness, to confirm it.
We find it best, I think, in the things that we do not have much control over, for example, how we naturally seek out others for company, for help, for an ear, or just to be with them. We find meaning in life, solace and growth when we are with other people. It is written up in the deepest folds of our being, that we become human only with others. For we are in our deepest just like God, a community of persons, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. I listened to a group of children playing the flute the other day. Playing alone is possible, but they sound so much better together, as if they were meant to play together and never on their own. In life, we are meant to be with others. Think of the opposite: being alone, suffering from loneliness. We know, when we are in the depth of loneliness, that something is amiss. It is painful. It is not how we are meant to be.
So then, we are really like God. That Psalm goes on to sing: “Yet you have made him little less than a god. With glory and honour you crowned him, gave him power over the work of your hands.” It’s uncomfortable to know that one’s being, our being is so like God’s. Maybe that’s why there must be a feast like this one today. To draw us up out of our unlikeness to what we really are, his image and likeness.