Divine Revelation in the Creation Story: Humanity is Made for Love

The Garden of Eden by Thomas Cole

The Garden of Eden by Thomas Cole

The readings for daily Mass over the next several days tell the story of creation, but the picture they paint is one of the human experience throughout history. As we approach the season of Lent, I invite you to meditate with the Church on the profound revelation about God’s creative plan for humanity contained in these readings. While this exercise might be challenging, it is worth making the effort, especially in our culture where confusion reigns about the truth of the human person, and marriage and family in particular.

The scriptural creation account in the Book of Genesis is less about how the world and humanity were made and is more about why they were made, where we come from and who made us. Revealed to us is who God is and, in turn, who we are, what we are, what the nature of the human being is.

“In the beginning, when God created the heavens and the earth . . .” (Genesis 1:1). The first thing that scripture tells us is that God exists and that the universe that we see all around us was not always here – and it did not create itself. God created it.

“A mighty wind swept over the waters . . .” (1:2). In Hebrew, the word used here for “wind” is “ruah” and in Greek it is “pneuma,” and in the ancient languages, the same word is used for breath, spirit and ghost. “. . . [T]hen God said, ‘Let there be light’” (1:3). “God said” – God communicates his Word, who is “the Light of the world” (John 8:12) and “through him all things were made” (Creed). Although veiled in mystery, all three Persons of the Trinity act in creation.

After creating the earth and sky, the plants and animals, as an act of love God said, “Let us make human beings . . .” (1:26). Then is revealed to us, “God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them” (1:27). Forming Adam out of dust, God then took a rib from the man’s side to create the woman Eve (2:22). Furthermore, God blew “the breath of life” – that is, his ruah, his Spirit – into his human creation and said to the man and woman, “Be fruitful and multiply” (2:7, 1:28).

These passages reveal to us the deepest truth about the nature of the human person and God’s plan for us, which is that every one of us is made to love and be loved. We are made to mirror the truth and love that lie at the very core of God’s being.

Humanity is explicitly created as male and female and as inherently being in relationship, made in the image and likeness of God the Trinity, who is Love and Truth. Furthermore, God has created us as spiritual beings and thus we are persons, not things. An understanding of this unalterable reality necessitates an acceptance that every human from the moment of conception until natural death is to be cherished and held in reverence and respect.

In a particular way, Saint John Paul II teaches, man and woman appear from the beginning as “a unity of the two” who are made for a mutual gift of self in a loving fruitful “communion of persons” like the Trinity, which is a loving communion of persons in one divine being (Mulieris Dignitatem, 7). This special relationship between a man and a woman, which by nature has the potential for children, is unique and it has historically been given the name “marriage.” No other relationship is like it and no other relationship can truly be called “marriage.”

Nevertheless, the spousal relationship revealed “in the beginning” sheds light on these other forms of human relationship which, in their own different way, are called to a gift of self. None of us is an island. Rather, we are by nature interdependent social beings, members of a single human family who are meant to work together and help one another. In this way, we all can bear fruit in the world.

We know that mankind did not live up to God’s plan and sin entered the world. But God has not given up on us. He calls us now to be what we were made to be – one human family loving and caring for one another in his creation.