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Archives March 2007

 by Pascual Chávez Villanueva                      March 2007        



“The man called his wife’s name “Eve” (Life) because she was mother of all the living. And the Lord God made for Adam and for his wife garments of skins and clothed them. Then the Lord God said: Behold the man has become like one of us knowing good and evil” (Gen. 3,20 seq).

From the moment he was created in the image of God, who is a Triune God, that is a God who is a communion of persons, man taken in himself as an isolated individual, cannot be “in the likeness of God”; he will be like God/community only if he himself makes/is community (in the family or in society). Genesis in fact, after having said that God created man in his own image, adds: “Male and female he created them.” And he entrusted to them the care of creation and gave them responsibility for history. The human being is a being-in-relationship, a multi-dimensional being.

Man therefore is called first of all to place himself in a relationship of master with creation, exercising “dominion” over it for the purpose of “caring for it” so as to make it ever more amenable at the service of all the men and women of the world. He does this through his intelligence applied to science and technology, which leads to progress and well-being. But man is also called to place himself in a brotherly relationship with others, without any pretence at dominion over them, but only with the responsibility of caring for them, as a shepherd cares for the sheep entrusted to him. This is only possible for someone who has a great love for his neighbour which leads him to be supportive and to build the human family together without distinctions of race, colour of skin, language, culture, people or nation. And again man is called to place himself in a personal relationship with himself, conscious of all the aspects of his being and trying to develop them harmoniously not allowing one to predominate at the expense of the others, and so achieve an inner harmony and unity of body, heart, mind and spirit. This is possible for someone who knows himself well and can identify his vocation and the duties this implies. Saint Paul sums it up in a classic phrase: we have been created by God to be conformed to the image of his Son (Rom. 8, 29).

And, last but not least, man is called to place himself in a filial relationship with God. In his presence there is no room for attitudes which because they are mistaken run the risk of preventing us from reaching our goal. I am referring to two tendencies: that of someone who thinks of God as a Master to be served, who can treat us as he likes, or that of someone who thinks of God as a severe judge who is a threat to our freedom and happiness. If the first image of God induces fear and leads to the attitude of a slave before his Master, the second provokes rebellion and even an attempt to eliminate this god so that we may finally be ourselves, what we ought and want to be. Jesus had a relationship with God not as a slave or a rebel but as a son. Indeed the most characteristic feature of Jesus is precisely his image of God as father whom he addresses with the tender name “Abba” Papà. It appears there was nothing he would rather be doing than “the will of his father.” In fact he was aware that his mission in the world was that of doing his father’s will, and he even described it as his food. This approach can be achieved through faith, which opens us to God who is loved as the supreme good.

Nowadays there is taking hold, at least in some parts of the world, a phase of secularism in which people are living etsi Deus non daretur – as though God did not exist – by which faith is considered a private matter, without any social or political import. The situation becomes worse where an agnosticism takes hold which leads to a belief in the unlimited transcendence of technical and scientific progress and of human consciousness but without existential transcendence. And there are not lacking attitudes and experiences of pure and simple atheism. I must say that these tendencies are not new even though today they are more aggressive and underhand. There has always been a tendency to reduce man to a single dimension at the expense of the others, leading in this way to a culture of death. In fact, culture is the typical way in which man relates to nature, to others, to himself, to God. And in the end it must be recognised that only when man has a genuine relationship with God does he relate well to others. From this point of view the model on which to build one’s own life with any chance of success in the face of the fundamental questions about human existence (life and death) is Jesus.

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