Saturday of the Fifth Week in Ordinary Time

Lectionary: 334

The LORD God therefore banished him from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from which he had been taken.

If one were to compile and tabulate all the readings and interpretations of The Fall in the Book of Genesis the volumes would challenge the Encyclopedia Britannica for length on a shelf. There will never be a comprehensive statement about this magnificent story, except perhaps the Gospel of Jesus Christ. 

I am struck by the Author's phrase, "the ground from which he had been taken." 

The ground recalls the insult and curse which is still ringing in our ears, "For you are dirt and to dirt you shall return." 

How much energy and how many years do we waste trying to escape that truth? I have known men and women who smoked and drank heavily all their lives but in the end are unwilling to face the "dirt from which (they) were taken." Even as their last energies ebb they talk about going home to resume their hobby of watching television. 

On a higher plain, Academia pursues the life of the mind with its ideas, thinking that perhaps their ideas will survive as they fall into the dirt from which they were made. Their ideas carry their names -- Marx, Freud, Einstein, Descartes, etc -- and perhaps they'll  live forever in their names. 

"...the ground from which he had been taken" reminds us of the futility of our lives. Human beings want a reason to live but our fallen state -- called "Original Sin" -- mocks us to our faces and says, "It ain't necessarily so." 

But the story of the Fall concludes with some hints of savage tenderness, "For the man and his wife the LORD God made leather garments, with which he clothed them." 

The leather, of course, was skinned from other animals in the Garden. God knew the unfortunate couple could not survive in their naked condition and he provided clothing for them, even at the expense of animal life. 

Also, the Church finds a "proto-gospel" in Genesis 3:15: I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; He will strike at your head, while you strike at his heel." 

"He" is the Lord Jesus, the offspring of Eve and of Mary, who crushes the serpent's head. (Our statues of the Immaculate Conception represent Mary's crushing of the snake's head.) If the original author saw the enmity between snakes and humans as representing the conflict between humans and nature, the Church finds a note of triumph in the word crush

As we leave the Garden we realize the Lord still tenderly cares for us. The words of promise may be vague and the Messiah distant but our Responsorial Psalm promises, 
"In every age, O Lord, you have been our refuge."

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I love to write. This blog helps me to meditate on the Word of God, and I hope to make some contribution to our contemplations of God's Mighty Works.

Ordinarily, I write these reflections two or three weeks in advance of their publication. I do not intend to comment on current events.

I understand many people prefer gender-neutral references to "God." I don't disagree with them but find that language impersonal, unappealing and tasteless. When I refer to "God" I think of the One whom Jesus called "Abba" and "Father", and I would not attempt to improve on Jesus' language.

You're welcome to add a thought or raise a question.