Bishop Robert Barron delivered the first keynote of the Pastoral-Theological Congress: “Imago dei is not a special privilege but, as in the parable of the talents, an image for the world. Living as the image of God is both a mission and a responsibility. We are sharers in the divine nature, called to be radiant as the burning bush was radiant, and like the burning bush we are not consumed by God.
In the opening chapters of Genesis God creates heaven and earth, through a non-violent act of speech, a sheer act of love. The account in Genesis is like a liturgical procession. Each day’s ‘work’ by God gives glory to God. Humankind’s deepest task is to lead all of creation, through our human voice, giving voice on behalf of the whole of creation, to the glory of God.
When Adam names the animals he is cataloguing them, naming them according to their intelligibility to God. Adam is priest (giving right praise to God), prophet (truth teller) and king (tending the garden). He is then meant to go on mission, to turn the whole world into a place where God is rightly to be praised.
The family is the basic cell of civil society, in a deeply theological and spiritual sense. Family is where the imago dei in each of us is burnished, brought to life, where we are taught to be priest, prophet and king, praying together, learning right praise, going out into the world to teach right praise. A family where basic moral truths are taught and, above all, lived, engages in prophetic praise. Where virtues are cultivated at home, courage, prudence, forgiveness, nonviolence, families can go out and teach the world those values. Family is the place of right praise, right behaviour, right virtues. We carry an image of the emperor, the King, God’s image out into the world. So let us do it confidently as priests teaching right praise, as prophets speaking the truth, and as kings, people on a mission, on a march.”