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PART THREE

LIFE IN CHRIST

SECTION ONE
MAN'S VOCATION LIFE IN THE SPIRIT

CHAPTER ONE
THE DIGNITY OF THE HUMAN PERSON

ARTICLE 1
MAN: THE IMAGE OF GOD

1701 "Christ, . . . in the very revelation of the mystery of the Father and of his love, makes man fully manifest to
himself and brings to light his exalted vocation."2 It is in Christ, "the image of the invisible God,"3 that man has
been created "in the image and likeness" of the Creator. It is in Christ, Redeemer and Savior, that the divine
image, disfigured in man by the first sin, has been restored to its original beauty and ennobled by the grace of
God.4

1702 The divine image is present in every man. It shines forth in the communion of persons, in the likeness of the
unity of the divine persons among themselves (cf. chapter two).

1703 Endowed with "a spiritual and immortal" soul,5 the human person is "the only creature on earth that God has
willed for its own sake."6 From his conception, he is destined for eternal beatitude.

1704 The human person participates in the light and power of the divine Spirit. By his reason, he is capable of
understanding the order of things established by the Creator. By free will, he is capable of directing himself toward
his true good. He finds his perfection "in seeking and loving what is true and good." 7

1705 By virtue of his soul and his spiritual powers of intellect and will, man is endowed with freedom, an
"outstanding manifestation of the divine image."8

1706 By his reason, man recognizes the voice of God which urges him "to do what is good and avoid what is
evil."9 Everyone is obliged to follow this law, which makes itself heard in conscience and is fulfilled in the love of
God and of neighbor. Living a moral life bears witness to the dignity of the person.

1707 "Man, enticed by the Evil One, abused his freedom at the very beginning of history." 10 He succumbed to
temptation and did what was evil. He still desires the good, but his nature bears the wound of original sin. He is
now inclined to evil and subject to error:

Man is divided in himself. As a result, the whole life of men, both individual and social, shows itself to be a struggle, and a dramatic
one, between good and evil, between light and darkness.11

1708 By his Passion, Christ delivered us from Satan and from sin. He merited for us the new life in the Holy Spirit.
His grace restores what sin had damaged in us.

1709 He who believes in Christ becomes a son of God. This filial adoption transforms him by giving him the ability
to follow the example of Christ. It makes him capable of acting rightly and doing good. In union with his Savior, the
disciple attains the perfection of charity which is holiness. Having matured in grace, the moral life blossoms into
eternal life in the glory of heaven.

IN BRIEF

1710 "Christ . . . makes man fully manifest to man himself and brings to light his exalted vocation" (GS 22 § 1).

1711 Endowed with a spiritual soul, with intellect and with free will, the human person is from his very conception
ordered to God and destined for eternal beatitude. He pursues his perfection in "seeking and loving what is true
and good" (GS 15 § 2).

1712 In man, true freedom is an "outstanding manifestation of the divine image" (GS 17).

1713 Man is obliged to follow the moral law, which urges him "to do what is good and avoid what is evil"
(cf. GS 16). This law makes itself heard in his conscience.

1714 Man, having been wounded in his nature by original sin, is subject to error and inclined to evil in exercising
his freedom.

1715 He who believes in Christ has new life in the Holy Spirit. The moral life, increased and brought to maturity in
grace, is to reach its fulfillment in the glory of heaven.
This teaching is rooted in Genesis 1:26-27: “Then God said, 'Let us make man in our
image, after our likeness; and let them have dominion over . . .all the earth. . . .' So God
created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he
created them.” The Catechism explains how we are made in God's image, noting that
among visible creatures only man is “able to know and love his creator,” and “the only
creature on earth that God has willed for its own sake” (Catechism, no. 356). The
Catechism adds: Being in the image of God the human individual possesses the dignity
of a person, who is not just something, but someone. He is capable of self-knowledge, of
self-possession and of freely giving himself and entering into communion with other
persons. And he is called by grace to a covenant with his Creator, to offer him a response
of faith and love that no other creature can give in his stead (no. 357).

We see, then, that man is made like or similar to God in his ability to know: The human
person participates in the light and power of the divine Spirit. By his reason, he is capable
of understanding the order of things established by the Creator. By free will, he is capable
of directing himself toward his true good. He finds his perfection “in seeking and loving
what is true and good” (Catechism, no. 1704). By virtue of his soul and his spiritual
powers of intellect and will, man is endowed with freedom, an “outstanding
manifestation of the divine image” (Catechism, no. 1705). Man is also made like God in
having freedom, that is, the ability to choose. The hallmark of man's freedom is his ability
to image God's love in giving himself to another person. As the Catechism provides, “The
divine image is present in every man. It shines forth in the communion of persons, in the
likeness of the unity of the divine persons among themselves (cf. chapter two)” (no. 1702).

Because we are talking now of man's ability to choose, we can transition from man's being
made in God's image to man's imaging God to fulfill his God-given vocation. For example,
husband and wife uniquely image the love of God, who is three Persons. In His divine
essence, God does not have a body; yet, husband and wife image the love of God through
their bodily communion. Jesus teaches us that He and the Father are one (cf. Jn. 17:21-
23), and, analogously, husband and wife image the union of Father and Son in becoming
“one flesh” through the consummation of their marital love (Gen. 2:23-24). And, as the
Holy Spirit proceeds eternally from the eternal love of the Father and Son (Catechism,
nos. 246), so too theologians like Dr. Scott Hahn have argued that a family images this
Trinitarian love, with a child coming forth as a fruit or “procession” of a husband and
wife's mutual love (cf. Catechism, no. 364). In his weekly General Audience of February
20, 1980, Pope John Paul II affirmed that married couples image God: So the very
sacramentality of creation, the sacramentality of the world was revealed in a way, in man
created in the image of God. By means of his corporality, his masculinity and femininity,
man becomes a visible sign of the economy of truth and love, which has its source in God
himself and which was revealed already in the mystery of creation. Against this vast
background we understand fully the words that constitute the sacrament of marriage,
present in Genesis 2:24: “A man leaves his father and his mother and cleaves to his wife,
and they become one flesh.”

The Catechism also beautifully affirms the “God-imaging” power of husband and wife:
God who created man out of love also calls him to love-the fundamental and innate
vocation of every human being. For man is created in the image and likeness of God who
is himself love [Cf. Gen. 1:27, 1 Jn. 4:8, 16]. Since God created him man and woman, their
mutual love becomes an image of the absolute and unfailing love with which God loves
man. It is good, very good, in the Creator's eyes. And this love which God blesses is
intended to be fruitful and to be realized in the common work of watching over creation:
“And God blessed them, and God said to them: 'Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth
and subdue it'” [Gen. 1:28; cf. 1:31]. One can also argue that man images God in exercising
dominion on earth as God's “co-workers,” whereas God has dominion over all creation
(Catechism, no. 207; cf. Gen. 1:26) and in making disciples of all nations (cf. Mt. 28:18-
20; Jn. 20:21). Man, wounded by original sin, finds His perfection in imaging God-in
fulfilling his vocation as man-in Christ. As the Catechism provides: “Christ, . . . in the very
revelation of the mystery of the Father and of his love, makes man fully manifest to
himself and brings to light his exalted vocation” It is in Christ, “the image of the invisible
God” [Col. 1:15; cf. 2 Cor. 4:4], that man has been created “in the image and likeness” of
the Creator. It is in Christ, Redeemer and Savior, that the divine image, disfigured in man
by the first sin, has been restored to its original beauty and ennobled by the grace of God
(no. 1701).

He who believes in Christ becomes a son of God. This filial adoption transforms him by
giving him the ability to follow the example of Christ. It makes him capable of acting
rightly and doing good. In union with his Savior, the disciple attains the perfection of
charity, which is holiness. Having matured in grace, the moral life blossoms into eternal
life in the glory of heaven (no. 1709). In summary, man is uniquely made in the image of
God through his ability to know and love, and images God in fulfilling his vocation by
loving God through loving his neighbor and respecting God's creation. In addition,
marriage is a unique relationship in which couples image the Trinitarian God.
By the way, in the official Catholic resources we examined, there is no distinction between
“image” and “likeness” in Gen. 1:26-27. While these words have different meanings in the
Bible when used separately, in Genesis 1:26-27 they are used in tandem for the emphasis
of a single concept, together signifying a truth about man in relation to God. This kind of
construction is known as a “parallelism,” a literary device common in Hebrew literature.
As Catholic and Protestant scholars agree, “The Hebrews would often emphasize
something by stating the same thing in two different ways.” Because “image and likeness”
is a parallelism, the Church sometimes uses “shorthand” subheadlines like “In the Image
of God” and “Man: the Image of God” in the Catechism of the Catholic Church
(Catechism), since the words are synonymous in Genesis 1:26-27.

Given the parallelism of Genesis 1:26-27, we will simply emphasize, for efficiency of
discussion, the word “image” in our presentation. In addressing your question, we can
distinguish between how man is made in the image (noun) of God in his human nature,
and how he is called to image (active verb) God in living out his vocation. Just because
man is made in God's image does not mean that he was created in a perfected or fulfilled
state. Further, there is the complicating factor of original sin and its effects on human
nature even after one has been baptized (cf. Catechism, nos. 404-05). Jesus Christ came
so that man could fulfill his vocation, which is, ultimately, to reign in heaven with God.