Today we continue to hear about the creation of human beings. We see how they are a combination of both matter and spirit. They are molded from the earth, but God breathes His own life into them. Saint Gregory the Theologian writes,
The soul is the breath of God, a substance of heaven mixed with the lowest earth, a light entombed in a cave, yet wholly divine and unquenchable. … He spoke, and taking some of the newly minted earth His immortal hands made an image into which He imparted some of His own life. He sent His spirit, a beam from the invisible divinity.
Saint Basil the Great tells us that God breathed His own life into us so that we ‘might recognise likeness through likeness.’ God wants to draw us to Himself, which is why He gives all of creation to us. Yet we also need to approach it in the right way. The Fathers tell us that the tree of the knowledge of good and evil was not forbidden to Adam and Eve because it was evil, but rather because they were not ready for it. God knows what is best for us and He therefore sets limits in order to ensure that we seek Him in the right way and with the right motivation.
For God says, ‘Of every tree of paradise you shall eat,’ meaning, I think, by means of all created things you will be drawn to Me, their Creator, and from them reap the one fruit which is Myself, who am the true life. Let all things be fruitful life to you, and make participation in Me to be the substance of your own existence, for thus you shall be immortal.
Saint John of Damascus
A Reading from the Book of Genesis 2:4-19:
These are the generations of the heavens and the earth when they were created.
In the day that the Lord God made the earth and the heavens, when no plant of the field was yet in the earth and no herb of the field had yet sprung up — for the Lord God had not caused it to rain upon the earth, and there was no man to till the ground; but a mist went up from the earth and watered the whole face of the ground — then the Lord God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being. And the Lord God planted a garden in Eden, in the east; and there he put the man whom he had formed. And out of the ground the Lord God made to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food, the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
A river flowed out of Eden to water the garden, and there it divided and became four rivers. The name of the first is Pishon; it is the one which flows around the whole land of Hav’ilah, where there is gold; and the gold of that land is good; bdellium and onyx stone are there. The name of the second river is Gihon; it is the one which flows around the whole land of Cush. And the name of the third river is Tigris, which flows east of Assyria. And the fourth river is the Euphra’tes.