Memorial of St. Scholastica, virgin
(Genesis 1:20-2:4a; Mark 7:1-3)
It does not seem pretentious to say that humans are superior to the rest of creation. We merely have to open our computers to see how far humans have surpassed other creatures. Yet the primacy of humans is often questioned today. Groups as well as individuals believe that we humans are only links in an evolutionary chain not that far removed from our cousin chimpanzees. Further, they say that any claim of superiority on humans’ part is “speciesism” -- the vaulting of one species over others.
The Book of Genesis, on the other hand, has no difficulty in placing humans at the pinnacle of creation. They are the last of God’s creatures – the place of highest honors. Furthermore, Genesis says that humans are created in God’s own image. This is no mean distinction when one considers the awesomeness of God in Genesis’ eyes. Yet even Genesis has its reservations about the human species. Astute observers have noted that unlike the case of other animals, Genesis does not say that God declares humans “good” after making them. We can add that creation in God’s image is far from putting humans on the same pedestal as God. Later in the Old Testament the prophets will mock the gods of Israel’s neighbors as mere images.
Genesis intends that humans see themselves in process. Certainly our beginning is fortuitous, but the end is still in doubt. We may use our God-like talents for good or for ill. When we recognize our minuteness in comparison to God, thank Him for the privilege he has bestowed upon us, and strive to live in conformity to His generosity, we will come out all right. Presuming that we are already gods by belittling one another and trampling the rest of creation, we will bring about disaster.