Early church battles against the Arians–those who denied the divinity of Christ–produced some wonderful writings. St. Athanasius’ “Against the Arians,” written in the 4th centry, is an example.
We are made in the image of God, the saint says, and that makes us made in the image of the Word of God, who became flesh.
“Our Lord said: ‘Whoever receives you, receives me.’” The image of the Word through whom the universe was made, the Wisdom that made the sun and the stars– is in us.
The saint carries this thought further.
“The likeness of Wisdom has been stamped upon creatures in order that the world may recognize in it the Word who was its maker and through the Word come to know the Father. This is Paul’s teaching: ‘What can be known about God is clear to them, for God has shown it to them. Ever since the creation of the world his invisible nature has been there for the mind to perceive in things that have been made.’”
All creation has been stamped with “the likeness of Wisdom.” The universe is hardly secular then, a world divorced from God to be dismissed as worthless. The Word of God, Jesus Christ, came among us that we might discover that image not only in ourselves, but in the things that are made. Creation leads us to its Creator.
We make Jesus Christ too small if we see him only a human being, the saint argues. We also make creation too small if we dismiss it as godless.
Jesus immerses himself in the waters of the Jordan at his baptism and is proclaimed as God’s only Son. At the last supper, Jesus took bread and wine, blessed them and gave himself to us through them. The bread at Mass is the “fruit of the earth” and the wine “fruit of the vine.” Creation brings the Word to us.