Orthodox Byzantine Chants
Holy Mount Athos
Undoubtedly man has a special place among God’s creatures. He was named crown and emperor of the entire Creation. And the Holy Scripture makes a special reference to him and describes in detail how he was created and the beginning of his life on earth. We are going to talk about this subject today because in the former homily we discussed about the creation of the world in general.
Let’s remember first how it is described the creation of man in the Holy Scripture. God, after he had created the world and in the sixth day he created the land animals, thought and said: Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals and over all the creatures that move along the ground.
After this thought and decision of his, God made the man in His image. He made first his body from earthly dust and then with a blow in his face He gave him his soul. Thus the man came to life.
Then God took care of the man’s shelter, so that he would have a pleasant life. For this he made heaven, a beautiful garden, watered by four rivers, with all kinds of plants and nice trees, full of fruits. But there were two trees unlike all the others, due to their qualities: the tree of life and the tree of knowledge of good and evil, which were in the middle of the garden of heaven. God put the man in that wonderful place to live there and commanded him to protect it and cultivate it. He allowed him to eat from all the fruits of all the trees of heaven except the tree of knowledge and told him that if he had eaten from that one he would have stopped being immortal and one day he would have died.
Then God brought before Adam all the animals to give them names and this is what happened. But while all the animals had a partner, Adam had nobody to keep him company and help him. Therefore God thought and said: It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him. So God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep, and while he was sleeping, He took one of the man’s ribs and made a woman from it and brought her to the man. When Adam saw her he said: This is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh. She shall be called woman for she was taken out of man (in Hebrew the word woman derives from the same root with the word man).That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife and they become one flesh. 
Then God blessed the first couple of mankind saying: Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.
Adam and his woman were living in heaven naked, without being ashamed of this. (Genesis 1, 26-28 and 2, 4-25)
In this plain and expressive way the Holy Scripture describes the creation of man and the beginning of his life on earth. In the same way he did at the creation of the world, the holy writer does not aim to give us scientific information about the creation of man, but to show us the significance of man, who created him and which is his bond with God, with his fellows and his environment. To this effect he uses anthropomorphous expressions and symbolic tales to transmit us these truths. Therefore we are trying to discover these truths which hide behind the tale.
Describing the other works of God from the Creation, the Scripture says simply: “God said…and it was done.”
In what regards the man it describes God thinking, deciding and finally working to make the man. But we should not take all these facts literally. God did not need to think as a man and work to create the man, in the way the man does for creating something. Nor was it more difficult for Him to create the man than was the creation of all the other creatures. For the man as for all the others it was enough only the will of God. And surely this is how it happened: God willed and the man was created. But the Scripture when it describes God thinking and working to create the man aims to show us the special interest God has for man. God created the man with all His Love and with special care as an artist by his love and passion gives shape to the amorphous material. And this had been shown before his Creation as well, by the fact that He had created first all the others the man was going to need (the land, the plants, the animals, the sun, the waters, etc) and continued to show this ceaselessly by his care for the keeping and prosperity of man and especially for his eternal salvation, for which he was created.
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. 
By this image of the creation of man, the Scripture shows us the double nature of man, the material and the spiritual one. The earth from which we are told that it was made his body shows his close connection with the material world. His body is made of material elements and he needs material victuals for preserving his life. His body puts him in connection and communion with the material world and is the tool by means of which he performs all his works and he does the good or the evil. For this reason the name of the first man is Adam, which in Hebrew means ‘earthly’. But the man is not made only of earthly dust, he has also got a soul, which is spirit, like God who had given it to him. The soul is the one which gives life to the body and the capability to work and to come in connection and communion with God.
And this is what distinguishes man from the animals. The Holy Scripture talks sometimes about the soul of the animals but it refers only at the vital powers which make them move. When the animal dies nothing remains from it, while when the man’s body dies, his soul remains immortal.
In the Holy Scripture God is presented as saying that He was going to make the man in His image and in His likeness. This shows that the man is above all the other creatures because he is the only one who has attributes which make him resemble God. Of course these attributes do not refer at his body, since God has no body, but at his soul. This is God’s image, because as we had said, it is spirit like God. The man is the one who has higher spiritual charisms, which God has first in their perfect form: reason, conscience, free will, creativity, which make him differ from animals.
But although God decided to make the man in His image and in His likeness , we read below that He made him only in His image 
Of course God did not forget His initial decision nor changed His mind. In His likeness refers at the final destination of man which is his likeness with God, his deification. God gave him the attributes in His image, meaning the high spiritual charisms, which we have just mentioned before and the capability to cultivate them and to acquire spiritual perfection, for reaching by his own will and endeavour the likeness.
It is required great attention at the way in which it is described the creation of the woman. God takes a part of Adam’s body to make the woman. This shows the close bond and resemblance between the woman and the man. He does not take a part from the head nor one from the feet, but one from the middle of the body. This shows that the woman is not higher nor lower than the man, but equal with him. They are made for each other. They have the same rights and duties one for the other and both of them towards God. This is a very important thing because it represents the foundation principle and the rule which must guide the relationships between them and especially within the family. The man cannot be as a despotical and tyrannous master for the woman and make her tremble as a slave before him and the woman must not forget the place and limits ordained for her by God and she should not attempt to become head for her husband but they should have mutual love and understanding and care one for the other and work together for solving their mutual problems.
This golden rule was destroyed by sin which had as a consequence the fact that the woman became the slave of the man and she was considered in the time of our Lord a thing without personality. The gender equality was reestablished by Christianity, preached by Apostle Paul who says that there is neither male nor female  For as woman was made from man so also man is born from woman. But everything comes from God.
Therefore those who sustain nowadays that they fight for gender equality have to return to the things God had settled from the beginning and our Lord, Jesus Christ restored by His perfect Law. Only then a true equality will reign.
By the prophetic words Adam said inspired by God when he saw the woman and by the blessing of God of the first created couple the marriage and family were established.
These words were to be reminded by Jesus later so that it would be shown the inseparable bound of marriage, adding firmly: What God has joined together let no man separate.  The man should not dare to separate the bond which God settled and blessed. However the man dared and he still does to separate and destroy in many ways the holy institution of matrimony by the polygamy of yore, by the breach of conjugal fidelity and by the facile divorce. While polygamy disappeared in the Christian countries and almost disappeared in the non-Christian ones, the conjugal infidelity is unfortunately so wide-spread and divorces are increasing at a worrying pace. Thus the holy institution of matrimony is affected and weakened. And when the family is not in a good condition we cannot expect to have a healthy and stable society, since the family is the cell of the society.
If the society is mainly composed of healthy families, it will be healthy too. Otherwise it will be sick, just like the human body is healthy or sick if the cells from which is composed are healthy or sick. Thus if nowadays our society is not healthy and presents symptoms of corruption and decay these are mainly caused by the family dissolution. And if we want to have a healthy and improved society we must support and restore the family, placing it on firm and unwavering foundations, where it had been placed from the beginning by God.
God, by blessing the first people and by means of them the entire mankind, gave them the right to rule the earth and all the creatures living on it. This dominion is seen in the description from the Scripture where Adam gives names to all the animals and birds. The history of mankind attests this dominion. The man has gradually conquered – and continues to do this – the powers God created in nature. He subdued all animals even if some of them have more physical power than him. Thus it is attested the fact that man as image of God is the only creature who has all the charisms and attributes to conquer the world and be a co worker of God. This supremacy of man is nicely described by saint John Chrysostom who says : “God made this insignificant man who is only 3 cubits tall and is inferior to the animals in physical power be above all, giving him a rational soul, thing which represents a proof of the special honor he was granted.
For with his mind the man built citadels, scoured the seas, adorned the land, invented numerous trades and crafts, he subdued the wildest animals and what’s most important of all, he came to know God, who created him and taking him by the hand guided him towards virtue and he learnt what is good and what is not. From all creatures he is the only one who prays to God. He is the only one who received divine revelations. The earth, the sun, the stars exist for him, the seasons change for him, the trees bear fruits for him, so many plants and animals live for him. For him is the day and for him is the night, the apostles and prophets were sent for him, the angels came so many times from the skies for him …For him God’s only begotten Son made Himself man, was crucified and buried.
Therefore the supremacy of man over nature, the attributes he was given by God and everything God did and does for him are clear proofs of God’s love and care for him. For all these we owe deep gratitude and ceaseless thanks to our Creator.
 Genesis 1, 26
 Genesis 2, 18
 Genesis 2, 23
 Genesis 2, 28
 Genesis 2,7
 Genesis 1, 26
 Genesis 1, 27
 Galathians 3, 28
 1 Corinthians 11-12
 Matthew 19, 6