If only he had listened

In the beginning, after man and woman ate of the forbidden fruit, “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” [Gn 3:7].

Michelangelo - The Fall of Man

Michelangelo – The Fall of Man

There can be no doubt that neither understood the serious and long-lasting ramifications of their simple act of defiance and disobedience to God’s will. After God created woman, we read “The man and his wife were both naked, yet they felt no shame” [Gn 2:25] but when our first parents acted against the direct order of God and ate the fruit from the tree of knowledge of good and bad, their eyes were opened and they felt shame. And it is by their new sight that we have been tormented since the beginning, for God never meant for man to know evil, rather He made man out of His inestimable love, desiring only man’s love in return.

One way to approach this is to look at the very young. They harbor no inhibitions; they neither understand the concept of nakedness, nor do they have the knowledge of good or bad. Everything is new; waiting to be explored and experienced. There is no right or wrong, good or bad, joy or sorrow; there is only the undiscovered and the yet to be experienced ‘new’. That is, until someone reaches out and tells them “no, that is forbidden.” And when they disregard that taboo and suffer for their disobedience, their eyes are opened and they understand. If only they had listened and obeyed.

It is somewhat of a paradox that when man’s eyes were opened he lost the ability to see clearly, to distinguish between the good and the bad. God had given him dominion over all that was good and had forbidden only that which was not, yet man coveted that of which he had neither knowledge nor understanding, and ate it based upon the meretricious guile of the serpent, the master of lies and deceit. If only man had listened and obeyed God.

Because of man’s disobedience, God said “See! The man has become like one of us, knowing what is good and what is bad! Therefore, he must not be allowed to put out his hand to take fruit from the tree of life also, and thus eat of it and live forever” [Gn 3:22] so God expelled man from the garden, away from the tree of life. The price that man paid for his disobedience, for his sin was death and separation from God, for no longer could man see or hear God as before.

What was lost was nothing as poor as life in the Garden of Eden, although that was indeed a considerable loss, but the greatest loss was the unthinkable separation from God’s presence and voice. When man’s eyes were opened, God distanced Himself from man, removing Himself from man’s sight and hearing. It was as if God had placed Himself behind a one-way mirror; God remained ever watchful but man, for the first time, walked alone.

Man now saw both the good and the bad, but often had great difficulty in discerning the difference. God knew that from before the beginning, man did not, and the rest is history.

About the author: Deacon Chuck

Deacon Chuck was ordained into the permanent diaconate on September 17, 2011, in the ministry of service to the Diocese of Reno and assigned to St. Albert the Great Catholic Community. He currently serves as the parish bulletin editor and website administrator. Deacon Chuck continues to serve the parish of Saint Albert the Great Catholic Community of the Diocese of Reno, Nevada. He is the Director of Adult Faith Formation and Homebound Ministries for the parish, conducts frequent adult faith formation workshops, and is a regular homilist. He currently serves as the bulletin editor for the parish bulletin. He writes a weekly column intended to encompass a broad landscape of thoughts and ideas on matters of theology, faith, morals, teachings of the magisterium and the Catholic Church; they are meant to illuminate, illustrate, and catechize the readers and now number more than 230 articles. His latest endeavor is "Colloqui: A journal for restless minds", a weekly journal of about 8 pages similar in content to bulletin reflections. All his reflections, homilies, commentaries, and Colloqui are posted and can be found on his website: http://deaconscorner.org. Comments are always welcome and appreciated. He is the author of two books: "The Voices of God: hearing God in the silence" which offers the reader insights into how to hear God’s voice through all of the noise that surrounds us; and "Echoes of Love: Effervescent Memories" which through a combination of prose and verse provides the reader with a wonderful journey on the way to discovering forever love. He regularly speaks to groups of all ages and size and would welcome the opportunity to speak to your group.

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