You Are the “Imago Dei”Sunday, July 31, 2016
Fr. Richard Rohr,
Searching for and rediscovering the True Self is the fundamentum, the essential task that will gradually open us to receiving and giving love to God, others, and ourselves. Grace builds on nature; it does not avoid or destroy nature. You are created in the image of God from the very beginning (Genesis 1:26-27, Ephesians 1:3-4).
You (and every other created thing) begin with your unique divine DNA, an inner destiny as it were, an absolute core that knows the truth about you, a true believer tucked away in the cellar of your being, an imago Dei that begs to be allowed, to be fulfilled, and to show itself. “You were chosen in Christ before the world was made–to stand before God in love–marked out beforehand as fully adopted sons and daughters” (see Ephesians 1:4-5). This is your True Self. Historically, it was often called “the soul.”
Jesus revealed and accepted a paradox in his entire being: human and divine are not separate, but one, his life shouted! I wonder why we so resist our destiny? For most of us, this seems just too good and too dangerous to be true. There is so much contrary evidence! Many clergy fight me on this, even though it is quite constant in the Tradition. Is it because we are afraid to bear the burden of divinity? As Marianne Williamson says: “Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.”  I would say that it is precisely the divine part of you that is great enough, deep enough, gracious enough to fully accept the human part of you. If you are merely human, you will tend to reject your embarrassingly limited humanity. Think on that!
Maybe we realize subconsciously that if we really recognized our True Self–which is the Divine Indwelling, the Holy Spirit within us–if we really believed that we are temples of God (see 1 Corinthians 3:16, 6:19; 2 Corinthians 6:16), then we would have to live up to it. I am certainly afraid to own–and fully draw upon–that kind of dignity, such deep freedom, and such infinite love.
Paradoxically, immense humility, not arrogance, characterizes someone who lives in this True Self. You simultaneously know you are a son or daughter of God, but you also know that you didn’t earn it and you are not worthy of it. You know it’s entirely a gift (see Ephesians 2:8-9 and throughout the Pauline writings). All you can do is thank Somebody Else, occasionally weep with joy, and kneel without any hesitation.
The single and true purpose of mature religion is to lead you to ever new experiences of your True Self. If religion does not do this, it is junk religion. Every Sacrament, every Bible story, every church service, every sermon, every hymn, every bit of priesthood, ministry, or liturgy is for one purpose: to allow you to experience your True Self–who you are in God and who God is in you–and to live a generous life from that Infinite Source.