In Whose Image We Are Made

In Whose Image We Are Made

Have you ever felt like part of you is still missing? Or felt a need for yourself or others to become something more?

During many of these summer Sundays in the Orthodox Church, the Gospel lessons are taken from passages in Matthew. They present many of those miraculous healings by Christ in the presence of the Jewish rulers, who thought they knew better than the Lord for varying reasons, trying to remake Him into their image without recognizing who He was: The One in Whose Image they were made.

We are in a fascinating day and age where the concept of “identity” is publicly examined on a daily basis, having who we are as persons dissected down to an elemental level, and then reconstructed in various ways. There is an increasing pressure to do irreversible things to oneself in pursuit of identity, trading an eternal identity for one that is temporal.

As a priest, one of my favorite topics in catechism is the mystery of “personhood” which is first introduced when talking about who God is: The Holy Trinity, One God in three persons, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Then we talk about the mystery of personhood within each of us, and how our potential as persons is infinitely greater than we could ever imagine because we are made in God’s image and after His likeness (Gen. 1:26-27).

Realizing who we are, and that our potential as a person is the very likeness of God, or as St. Athanasius the Great says, “to become like God,” inspires awe because of its magnitude. It is no wonder that we feel like part of us is still missing then, or that we feel a need to become something more. This struggle with our identity, with the mystery of our personhood, is meant to direct us toward God to discern our true identity.

A recently canonized saint from Essex, England, Fr. Sophrony, says that we are each meant to wrestle with God, to discover who we are and become like Him. He often references Jacob wrestling with the angel, the pre-incarnate Christ, and receiving his identity in the name “Israel” (Gen. 32:22-32). Through the encounter with God and wrestling with Him, Jacob moved toward his likeness in God.

May God help us recognize in Whose Image we are made, and may that realization inspire us to struggle toward our identity, our personhood, and our likeness in Him.