reading from Genesis completes the poetic “story of the heavens and the earth
at their creation”. On the sixth day “God created man in his own image…male
and female he created them.” He then gave them “dominion over the fish
of the sea, the birds of the air and all the living things that move on the
earth.” He also gave them every seed-bearing plant and every tree that
has seed-bearing fruit for their food.
In his Spiritual Exercises, St. Ignatius paraphrases it this way. “All the other things on the face of the earth were created for our use.”
And he explains we are to use them in so far as they help us to attain the
end for which we were created, and to abstain from them in so far as they
deter us from that goal. The goal, of course, is to praise, love and
When we fail to understand and acknowledge the dignity and dominance of our
humanity and our relationship to all other created things, the danger is
misusing God’s other creatures in one of two extremes.
For example, some people believe it is cruel and unnatural to kill deer and
catch fish for food to eat. Is it more humane or compassionate to let
these creatures over-multiply and starve to death instead? The Scriptures
certainly don’t give the same value to the animal and plant world as to human
beings. If one is motivated to live a vegetarian way of life it is
certainly an option. God gave us the plants and fruit trees for the
same purpose as the animals, birds and fish.
On the other hand, some people over accentuate their dominance of nature
in such a way as to abuse it by waste, destruction, pollution and hoarding
nature’s resources. The result for their fellow human beings is want,
starvation, disease and being forced to live in inhuman conditions that lead
to infanticide, strife, fighting, wars and genocide.
Scriptures tell us “God is everywhere.” He is ever-present sustaining
all of his creation. In our every action we are someway coming in contact
with God. It follows then that abusing the environment or having no
concern to protect and use God’s creation intelligently would seem to be
a sacrilege; “a violation of something consecrated to God”.
Reflecting upon the creation story and God’s magnificent gift of our universe
challenges us to live in a realistic way whereby we use, enjoy, preserve
and restore our world while at the same time keeping it viable and healthy
for the generations to come.