In my previous post, I described how being made in the image of a Trinitarian God, we are called to live in communion. This week I will approach the notion of being created Imago Dei from a different angle, one of differences.
We see in the Trinity how a call to unity is not a call to oneness. We are not called to be the same person, we are called to be unified in one Christ. The differences between unity and sameness are the differences between persons. We are all uniquely made in the image of God. There are no replicates. You are solely yourself and no one can change that or re-create that. Just as in the Trinity there are three persons in one, in the body of Christ (the Church), there are many parts. The Holy Spirit and God the Father are unique Beings, they are wholly separate from another and yet wholly united with each other and the Son. While we strive to imitate their unity in our communities, we must also strive to imitate their individualism in our differences.
In Genesis Chapter 11, we see a completely unified people. Men have come together and declared, “let us build for ourselves a city, and a tower whose top will reach into heaven”. It would seem at first glance that these men are unified in their love for Christ, for their goal is to reach heaven. Reading further on, however, we see that sin controls their actions, “let us make for ourselves a name, otherwise we will be scattered abroad the face of the whole earth”. The unity of these men is rooted in the sin of pride. They seek to reach God in order to make a name for themselves, not for the sake of attaining unity with God in heaven. God then confuses their language and spreads them throughout the whole earth. It is here where we see the first instance of diversity.
While we do not know why God decided to confuse the language of the men building the tower of Babel, the focus is how do we deal with these differences as Catholics? A brief look at the history of the Church demonstrates that these differences should not be squandered. We should not strive to be the same, rather we should all strive to be holy. We are each individually called to holiness and this is manifested in different ways for different people. At Notre Dame we are all challenged to live out this call to holiness in our everyday lives. Whether through adoration, daily mass in the dorms or Basilica or theological debates among friends, we are constantly encouraged to find God in our everyday lives.
Rather than look at cultural or vocational differences in others as pulling us apart from one another, these differences allow us to follow an individual path towards God. The Church encourages us to seek God in our own way and to develop a personal relationship with Him. It is through these differences that we are able to see our own humanity. Though we are all different, we are all able to experience the presence of God and it is in this realization that we are able to able to reason that there is some greater presence than ourselves.
It is this greater presence of the all-encompassing God that must unify us, both personally and socially. In each person's uniqueness, there is also a unique call from God that cannot be accomplished by anyone else. Each person is special not in spite of their differences, but because their differences add so much to ourselves and society. We are all created different and in the image of God, and in this way our differences are a light by which we can discover more of Him and His purpose for humanity.