We humans were created in the image of God. One of the main implications of this for Christians is that we are created in the image of a Trinitarian God, a God who is three persons – Father, Son and Holy Spirit – and the three share a communal love for each other. We humans were created as communal or relational beings, to live in love and harmony with each other, to share the common human life. To live in relationship to God, creation and one another is the Paradise God made for us. We were never created to be isolated, alienated individuals. We share a common nature, we share the same planet, we all have the same Creator.
But that Paradise was shattered because people did not value love and community, but wanted to assert their individual life as more important than anything else including more important than one’s relationship with others. In Gen 3:6 we get a glimpse into Eve’s mind – “So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate.” From her individual point of view, Eve could see nothing wrong with eating of the forbidden fruit. What she ignored was that her life was lived in relationship with God and Adam and creation. Her sin shattered the relationships which existed leading us to the broken, fallen world in which we find ourselves.
We humans were created by God to share in the divine love shared by the Father, and the son and the Holy Spirit. We were created to participate in the Divine Life and Love, but we humans chose to rather assert our individualism over and against all else that exists. And that is why the world we live in is not Paradise. By sin we break the mutual bonds of love which were meant to bind us together in life.
But the God who is Love shows us in the event of the Annunciation that Divine Love is still available to us, for God’s love is not only relational and communal – a love and life to be shared by all – but it is also incarnational. God became human, entering the human condition in Mary’s womb, revealing to us that we humans still have the capacity for loving as God loves.
Christianity is that putting on ourselves the divine love and life. Christianity is not something like clothes which we can put on and take off, but rather Christianity is about our human nature, who and what we are. It is about our participating in the divine life.
The Virgin Mary at the Annunciation is a human person who becomes infused with and inseparable from the Holiness of God. She is the model human person. And so she says to God: Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word. (Luke 1:38)
Mary says to God, “not my will, but your will be done”. Mary is not interested in asserting her individualism, but rather is willing to embrace the divine love for humanity and do what is good and necessary for all the people of the world, indeed for all creation.
The Feast of the Annunciation – in which the Holy Spirit comes upon Mary tells us that sacred people or sacred places are a sign that holiness – that God Himself – can be experienced in life. We receive not only what is God’s, but we receive God into our own lives.
Icons, the Holy Communion, saints, the church building are the signs of God’s mysterious presence in our world and in our life. We are striving to make God’s presence personal to ourselves. Mary and all the saints tell us that we can share in the life of the Holy Trinity.
But to do so, we need to be willing to deny ourselves in order to love as God loves us.