Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized that they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made loincloths for themselves.
Our first reading yesterday, from the Book of Genesis concluded with, “The man and his wife were both naked, yet they felt no shame.” The Divine Author’s remark completes Adam’s shout of delight. He sees perfection in his spouse; she is flawless to him, and desirable. We can suppose Eve was equally excited about Adam.Shame about their appearance and vulnerability entered with sin. When the Lord came to visit in the cool of the evening, the couple hid among the trees. We’re given the impression they have not done that before; they were always there to greet him.
The sin began with an insinuation, “Did God really tell you…?” It’s so easy to make these kinds of remark; they’re subtle and suggestive without specificity. Recently a popular entertainer remarked about his enemies, “I don’t know; I’m just saying….” without finishing his sentence. What was he saying? He wasn’t saying anything. He was insinuating. The serpent's insinuation is entirely in the word really.The innocent are caught off guard by insinuation. How does one respond to that without admitting one’s naiveté? Our sweetly innocent Ancestress responded by exaggeration. She repeated the prohibition exactly except she added four unnecessary words, “or even touch it…” God has said nothing about touching the tree; they could climb in it if they wanted to.
With that four-word phrase Eve strayed from the truth. The tempter pounced on her little white lie and opened it wider, suggesting, “you will be like gods.” They were in fact created in the image and likeness of God, so why shouldn’t they pursue that avenue?We ordinarily think of the “original sin” as their eating the forbidden fruit but the sin began with insinuation and continued with exaggeration and bald faced lies. With that much momentum disobedience was inevitable. A wiser Eve might have recited God's prohibition and walked away, but that story would not be true. Eve is all of us, unprepared to confront slight suggestions of evil.
The story of the Fall teaches that we must maintain a fierce dedication to Truth. We dare not improve on it; we dare not explore an alternative reality or propose alternative facts. In the practice of our Catholic faith we have our scriptures, traditions, liturgy, magisterium and ordained authorities to help us abide in truth. As the storm of lies whirl around us, we must cling to the Truth which has been revealed to us.