Saturday, August 2, 2008

The Image of God

A reading from a homily by Origen (c. 185 - c. 254):

Each of our souls contains a well of living water. Within it is buried the image of God. It is this same well that the hostile powers of the universe have blocked up with earth. But now that our Isaac has appeared - I mean Christ - so let us welcome this coming and dig out our wells, clearing out the earth and cleansing them of all impurities. In spite of all the accumulated pollution, we shall find in them living water, water of which the Lord says: "Those who believe in me, out of their belly shall flow streams of living water."

For the Word of God is present there, within us, and his work is to remove the earth from the soul of each of us, to let the springs of water within gush free. This spring is within you and does not come from outside, for "the kingdom of God is within you." Or to give another analogy from Scripture, the woman who had lost her silver coin found it not outside but inside her house. She lit her lamp, swept out the house, and there she found the silver coin. For your part, if you light your "lamp," if you make use of the illumination of the Holy Spirit, if "you see light in his light," then you too will find the silver coin within you. For the image of our heavenly king is within us.

When God created human beings in the beginning, he made them "in his own image and likeness." He does not imprint this image exteriorly on us, but within us. It could not be seen in you as long as your house was dirty, full of junk and rubbish. But once you let the Word of God clear the great pile of earth that is weighing down your soul, then the image of the heavenly king will again shine out in you.

The maker of this image is the Son of God. And he is a craftsman of such surpassing skill that though his image may indeed become obscured by our neglect, it can never be destroyed by evil. The image of God always remains within you.


Perpetua said...

Great post! And just to be really clear, the silver coin is understood to be imprinted with the image of the reigning emperor or King. This may be lost on contemporary Americans because our coins have the image of dead presidents, temporarily elected political leaders.

Bryan Owen said...

Thanks for the clarification about the coin. That's really helpful, and makes Origin's point all the more powerful.

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