Reflection on “Where You Are From?” (Unpublished Writings of St. Maximilian, Vol. II #1270)
St. Maximilian poses the question, “Have you ever reflected, at times, to find out where you come from?’ He does not mean what country, racial culture, or birth parents. He wonders how did humanity come into existence? The theory of evolution tried to answer this question, but it could not trace its roots back to the very first cause of creation that goes beyond the empirical evidence.
We know that everything that comes into being has a cause, but if we regress ad infinitum, there will always be a cause, so to avoid infinite regression (that makes no sense), there has to be a first cause that always was and has to be uncreated. If there is always a cause, something cannot arise out of anything. Nothingness creates nothing.
That takes us to an eternal being that is unlimited and was not produced by any other cause. In the Old Testament, God identified Himself as “I AM who AM” to Moses. “I AM” is not a personal name, but a generic term for “Being.” So God is the ONE “Who IS” and “Always Was.” He is the uncreated Being who is the first cause of creation. In Moses time, the people believed in many Gods, so God is actually identifying Himself as the One True God by claiming to be “I AM who AM!”
Scripture claims, He created us in His own image. But what does that mean? Do we look like God? We have a body, soul, and spirit. St. Paul distinguishes between the three (May he preserve you whole and entire, spirit, soul and body (1Thes5:23). We see each other with our physical eyes. We can’t see God with physical eyes since He is pure spirit, (although Jesus took on a human body and soul so we could relate to Him). As a pure invisible spirit, how do we resemble the image of God? It has to be in a spiritual way since that is the common attribute that we share with Him. What are these spiritual attributes?
We have a soul that has an intellect and a will that is not produced by matter but comes from a transcendental source and is eternal. It is the spiritual principle of our being. It is very different from the physical body that decays in time and will return to the earth from which it was formed. However, the body is intimately integrated with the soul that animates its life. The body and soul function in unity and form a single human nature. The soul can only be separated from the body at death. However, because of its dignity as the temple of the Spirit, the body can be transformed by the transcendental spirit of God, the source of its creation, in the afterlife, although the physical aspect must first die to its lower nature.
Like our Creator, we have an intellect and will, the spiritual principle in mankind. Like our Creator, we have the capacity to love the “other” in a selfless way. It is our capacity to love as God does that reflects His image in us. Animals and plant life follow their basic natural instincts and do not have the power to reflect and reason as human beings do. Nor, do they have the freedom to love in a purely selfless way as revealed by Jesus in His life on earth and death on the cross.
There is a transcendental realm that is invisible that is part of our everyday reality. Reality is really two dimensional, but only the physical aspect is visible to our senses. Physical reality alone cannot explain what transpires in the soul and heart of our human nature but points to a higher and more mysterious transcendental influence that is in contact with the soul and spirit of our humanity. It will only be in the transcendental realm in which we will see how we are truly made in the image of God, but for some, this image will be completely distorted and disfigured if they have willingly turned away from the mercy and love of our Creator. That will depend on the freedom to choose the gift of His gratuitous love.
By Annette Leib (President of MI Canada)