In the account of creation from the beginning of the book of Genesis, the first book of the Bible, one of the principal elements is the fact that the one and only God created all things that exist. And another is the order and care with which he did that.
After creating the mineral, vegetable, and brute animal worlds, he said, on the sixth day, “Now, let us make man in our image according to our likeness.” He hadn’t said that about any other material creations. Nor did he give them any free will by which they could choose to do as they wished. The mineral, vegetable, and animal worlds obey the laws written into their natures by the Creator. Water must run downhill, not up. A fig tree cannot choose to bear oranges; a kangaroo can’t decide to have puppies or kittens instead of baby kangaroos. A metal paper clip must adhere to a magnet. If a heavy object is pushed off the end of a table, it is going to fall. It MUST obey the law of gravity.
We, however, can make many choices and to live as we choose to a great extent. If we live according to God’s directions, which we call the commandments and the virtues, we become saints. If we violate those commandments, which are given to us for our own good, we become sinners. If someone offends us and we become angry, we can choose either to attack that man in anger and vengeance and hatred, or we can forgive him and treat him as we would want him to treat us. If we see some object in a department store that we would like to have, but can’t afford, we can choose to steal it. Or we can remember that we have no right to it, and therefore simply live without it, unless at some time in the future we might be able to afford it. These things belong to the order by which God created the world and ourselves. The order governing water and trees and lions is obligatory. The order governing our moral actions is freely embraced.
Let us praise and thank our God for creating us, for creating us as human beings, for creating us with the dignity of his image and likeness, and for creating us with the grace to follow his commandments and become saints. That is our destiny; that is our nobility. Thank you for seeking God’s truth. God bless you. Father Victor Brown, O.P.
Note: This message was composed some years ago.