By Tony Crescio
In his latest Apostolic Exhortation, Amoris Laetitia, Pope Francis has many beautiful things to say about the human person, but one thing in particular caught my eye as I read through the text for the first time about a month ago. In paragraph 168 he writes: “Each child has a place in God’s heart from all eternity; once he or she is conceived, the Creator’s eternal dream comes true.” The language blew me away. Whoever speaks of the human person as a dream of God coming true? To me, the fact that the language struck me as remarkable was indicative of the fact that, for some time now, we have been steadily losing an understanding of the profound dignity and beauty of the human person as a society. So, how exactly is it that each of us represents a dream of God?
Without going into great theological depth, we might consider a simple point: each of us, regardless of who we are as individuals or the specific circumstances which might find ourselves in, have been marked by God in a way which is irrevocable, present by virtue of our creation. This mark, the imago Dei. The fact that we are created in imago Dei tells us certain things, that is, we possess certain “godlike” characteristics, if you will. Among these are things like free will and intelligence, however, that which is most important is that we have been created for loving communion with God and neighbor (by virtue of their creation in the same imago Dei). That this is the case is seen in the fact that as Augustine taught, ‘we are not created in the image of the Father, the Son, or the Holy Spirit, but rather, we are created in the image of the Trinity Itself’ (cf. St. Augustine of Hippo, On the Trinity, Bk 12; Ch. 6.7). The inner dynamics that we are meant to reflect as created in said Trinity, is most succinctly summed in the words of the apostle John: God is Love (1 John 4:8).
From all of eternity, the Divine Persons of the Trinity have existed in a perfect and complete exchange of self-giving love. Loving Father begets the beloved Son, and the love shared by the Two is so intense that it produces a Third, the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Love. The mind-blowing thing about being created in the image of such a God, is that we are meant to share in this exchange of love, we are meant to share the very life of God! Imagine God, looking at all of eternity as a single portrait, seeing all that would unfold in an eternal instant, and identifying each and every one of us and saying, “I want to share my life with you.” What would our world look like if we really believed that this was the case? If we truly believed that it was God’s dream to share His life with us?
If one doubts that this is the case, that sharing a perfectly loving relationship with you is really God’s dream, an oft quoted passage from the Gospel of John will suffice as proof: “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life” (3:16). When it seemed as though the fulfillment of God’s dream was about to slip away with the fall of our first parents, he kept the possibility alive by sending the Son into the world to give his very life. Yes, with the incarnation, death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus Christ, our God has definitively said to us, “Now nothing can keep me from you, except you.” For now, the only question left to be answered as to if God’s dreams will come true is whether or not we will love Him back. This, and only this will determine whether or not we spend eternity partaking of the life for which we have been created (cf. Matthew 25:31-44).
We would do well to frame our decisions with this in mind: every action we carry out has the power to make God’s dream a reality, starting here and now, or put that dream into peril. You represent an eternal dream of the Creator of all that is, will you keep that dream alive by the way you live your life, will you choose to help make God’s dream come true?
Tony Crescio is the founder of FRESHImage Ministries. He holds an MTS from the University of Notre Dame and is currently a PhD candidate in Christian Theology at Saint Louis University. His research focuses on the intersection between moral and sacramental theology. His dissertation is entitled, Presencing the Divine: Augustine, the Eucharist and the Ethics of Exemplarity.
Tony’s academic publications can be found here.