In the Image and Likeness of God
It’s a well-known fact, drummed into us by
those dear nuns back in grade school, that we are made in the image
and likeness of God. They also made us aware that this similarity we
have with God is chiefly in the soul. Today being Trinity Sunday,
it’s a good time to take a look at soul and indeed the whole of
God’s creation, and examine this likeness to God in whose image not
just man, but all things were created.
Truly, all things were created in God’s image and likeness. God is everywhere, and if we look closely at the things around us, we will see him. Or at least we will see his image and likeness in those things around us. God made it this way on purpose, so that we can never forget him!
It all began, naturally enough, in the beginning. In the work of creation, Holy Scripture describes the work of the three persons of the Blessed Trinity, the Father who is the Creator, the Son by whose Word all things were made, and the Spirit who moved upon the face of the deep. And it is in this Trinity that the image and likeness of God can be seen immediately from the first moment of creation. You’ll remember that the very first thing God created was light. As soon as this light first shone forth, it did so at what we call the speed of light—186,000 miles per second. Note the phrasing “miles per second”. In other words, miles began to exist, and we call that space. And seconds began to exist, and that is what we call time.
Time and space. Each of them reflect the Most Holy Trinity. Just as God is Three Persons united in one holy and undivided Trinity, Time has three components—past, present and future—that together make up the completeness of Time itself. Any event that ever takes place must either have done so in the past, be doing so now in the present, or will do so at some point in the future. And what about Space? Whatever takes up space can be measured in the three dimensions of length, width, and height. Nothing exists outside these dimensions. Even the smallest atom, can be measured in “nanometers”, millions of times smaller than the width of a human hair. At the opposite extreme, the universe itself, if you think about it, could be measured (if we had the technology to do so) by multiplying the number of seconds that have transpired since light was created by 186,000. This would give us the number of miles that light has traveled since Creation, giving us the limits that still separate us from the void that hasn’t yet been illuminated. The universe is expanding at the speed of light. It always will, at least, until God switches off the light at the end of time.
When God went on to create other things on the ensuing five days of Creation, the light he made on the first day was reflected off those things, or in some cases like the sun and the stars was actually emitted by those things. That gave us what we call color. Did you ever make the connection between color and the Blessed Trinity? There are lots and lots of colors after all, maybe an infinite number, but it’s not in that infinite potential that the resemblance of color to the Trinity exists. Every single color you can think of or imagine is made up of some combination of red, yellow and blue. There exist only three Primary colors. If you don’t believe me, take a look at the cartridges in your printer—red, yellow and blue. With these three colors you can print out the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel if you want—any color picture imaginable. The color black, by the way, which is the other cartridge, is actually nothing more than red, yellow and blue combined. I remember once reading a science fiction story in which someone on another planet was amazed by the existence of a whole new color that did not have its origin in any of these three primary colors. I racked my brain for weeks trying to imagine what it could look like, but of course, it’s impossible. God created color in his own image and likeness. Three colors there are, and even Michelangelo had to make do with just these. We shouldn’t feel “limited” in any way, because together they make up the completeness of color, just as past, present and future make up the completeness of time, or Father, Son and Holy Ghost represent the complete simplicity of a triune God.
What else did God create on those six days of Creation? Every single material thing God made falls into one of three categories: animal, vegetable or mineral. Or if you prefer, we can divide material things according to the form in which they exist—solid, liquid or gas. The point is, wherever we look we see the number three to remind us that God is everywhere. We could belabor the point and keep going: music is made up of melody, harmony and rhythm for example. Even God’s church is made of the three branches of Church Militant, Suffering and Triumphant. We sin in thought, word and deed. And on the reverse side, let’s not forget Faith, Hope and Charity.
But what’s the point of all this? Why did God make all things in his image and likeness? Surely, it’s this simple—he doesn’t want us to forget him. He wants to remind us of his presence by all the things around us. He wants us to love him at all times, and that means that we should always be thinking about him, or at least some aspect of him. And truly, we are always thinking about some aspect of God if we see his reflection in all we do. Every moment that goes by was once in the future, then is for single moment, before becoming part of our memories in the past. So every time I plan something, do something, or remember something, the reflection of God is before me to remind me of the Creator of time. Whenever I lift my little finger, it moves through the three dimensions of up, down and sideways, and the Trinity is there for me to behold. We might know, in some vague metaphysical sense, that God is everywhere, but the way God created the universe, when he made us and everything else, he actually gave us a constant and omnipresent means of keeping his presence ever before us.
St. Patrick used the three leaves of the shamrock to explain the Trinity to the heathens. He could have used anything! Today’s great Feast of the Most Holy Trinity is our annual opportunity to remember and instill more firmly in our conscious minds, the great plan of God’s Creation. Let us open our eyes, and see, by the Light he created, not only the wonderful things that God made, but the very reflection of God himself, present amongst us.