Memorial of Saint Scholastica, Virgin

We come to a crowning moment in the first creation story, one which prompts the Creator to judge his creation to be not merely “good,” but indeed “very good.” Of all the creatures that God creates, there is one only about which he says, “let us make” this one “in our image, after our likeness.” God sketches out something of the mission of this new creature even before he creates it: “let them have dominion over the fish, birds, etc.” And then, with great solemnity, man is created: “God created man in his image; in the divine image he created him; male and female he created them.”

Ignatius of Loyola seems to have reflected at length on the truth found in these verses, a truth which is enshrined as the very principle and foundation of his Spiritual Exercises. Ignatius says, “man is created to praise, reverence, and serve God our Lord, and in this way to save his soul. All other things on the face of the earth are created for man, to help him in the pursuit of this end.” God is love, and man is created in and for love. Man’s freedom to love proves that he is created in God’s image, and when he does love, he grows in the likeness of God who is love. It is in this context that we need to understand man’s “dominion” over creation. “Dominion” comes from the Latin word “dominus,” which means “lord.” In giving us “dominion” over created things, God shares with us his own lordship over creation. We exercise this lordship legitimately if our own lordship reflects the loving care of the one who is Lord over us. If we do not recognize God as Lord and fail to imitate him in the way that we care for the creation entrusted to us, then our own “lordship” may well end up being one of unjust subjugation instead of loving care. Let us turn, then, to contemplate God’s work as Lord, so that we may, with God’s help,  not be found among those whom Jesus condemns with Isaiah, saying, “this people honors me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.”

February 10th, 2015