by Fr. Bob Wild.
What was at the very heart of what we call original sin? Some say sensuality: Adam and Eve wanted better food. Or disobedience: God gave them a command and they disobeyed him. Some say the root was pride: they made their own desires rather than the will of God the center of the universe.
But what was the deeper lie at the root of the sensuality, the disobedience, the pride? For you can’t really sin without telling yourself a lie. What was the lie at the root of original sin?
Listen to Genesis 3:3-5: The woman said to the serpent, "We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, but God said, ‘You must not eat the fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.’"
"You will surely not die," the serpent said to the woman, "for God knows that when you eat of it, your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil."
What was sown in our first parents by the devil was this: God the Father, the Creator, is not to be trusted. He did not tell you the truth. He’s really trying to withhold something from you. Don’t believe him.
Try to imagine the enormity of this lie: "The One who created you is not to be trusted; he is deceiving you. Don’t believe him."
The One who chose us in Christ before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight (Eph 1:4) is not to be trusted! He who is love, who can only act out of love, who moves the stars out of love, is not to be trusted.
The One who desired to create other intelligent persons who could also enjoy bliss and life in union with the Trinity, is not to be trusted.
In the Catechism of the Catholic Church, it is precisely this lack of trust which is pointed out as the root of original sin:
"Man, tempted by the devil, let his trust in his Creator die in his heart and, abusing his freedom, disobeyed God’s command. This is what man’s first sin consisted of. All subsequent sin would be disobedience towards God and lack of trust in his goodness" (#397).
In the book, God in the Dock, the author, C.S. Lewis portrays modern people putting God in the dock. He is the prisoner, the One accused, the One on trial.
In this book, according to those people, we are okay; it is God who is the criminal, God who is responsible for evil; God, the one deceiving the human race.
This is not a new idea; it appears even in the Bible, but our faithless generation makes God the meanie, the double-crosser, the One who plans to do us in, the One playing tricks on us. And even for many who believe in God, he is not to be trusted.
What we celebrate on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception is a special grace given by the Father to Mary, the daughter of Sion: Through the merits of Christ, she would never lose her relationship as a loving daughter of the Father.
Never would trust in her loving Father die in her heart. Never for a moment would she mistrust the One who created her. Never for a moment would she entertain the thought that perhaps God was lying to her, deceiving her, not wanting her to have the fullness of life.
Never for one moment would she think that she must find her own way and use her freedom in whatever way she wished in order to become like God.
You see what an extraordinary moment Our Lady’s conception was in the history of the world?
God decided, you might say, to start over again, and create another Eve, a human person whose trusting relationship to him would be virginal, pristine, innocent, unquestioned, perfectly trusting. A new Eve who would be perfectly open to his plan for the human race.
Never, throughout all the events of her life—the annunciation, the arduous journey to Bethlehem, the slaughter of the Innocents, the hidden years of Nazareth, her Son’s leaving home, his persecutions, sufferings, and terrible death—never for one moment would she doubt her Father’s love for her. Never for one moment would she distrust him.
Even if Satan were allowed to whisper in her ear, "Why did God allow you to give birth to this man only to have him killed? God is deceiving you," she never doubted her Father’s love for her.
With the grace of the Immaculate Conception, the new creation began: There was present in the world then, the new Eve, the first member of the Church, God’s second creation.
And when we were baptized, this new creation began in us. We have been radically restored to our first innocence, reunited with the Father, essentially given the grace of absolute trust in the Father.
However, we suffer still from the inclination to evil, which the Church calls "concupiscence."
To quote again from the Catechism: "Baptism, by imparting the life of Christ’s grace, erases original sin and turns a man back toward God. But the consequences for nature, weakened and inclined to evil, persist in man and summon him to spiritual battle" (#405).
In union with Our Lady, we are called to struggle against this mistrust of the Father which tends to keep rising in our hearts, and which was at the heart of the original fall.
We ask Our Lady to obtain this grace for us all—to never, never doubt the Father’s love for us, no matter what happens. No matter what temptations come.
The late and great Jewish rabbi, Abraham Heschel, after giving a public address, was asked, rather sarcastically, how he could still believe in God after the Holocaust.
There was a long silence, and then he approached the microphone and, weeping, quoted Job: Though he kill me, yet will I trust him (Job 13:15).
The Mother of God, watching her son being slain, had that same trust.
In the Divine Office for the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, we read: "Blessed Lady, sky and stars, earth and rivers, day and night—everything that is subject to the power or use of man—rejoice that through you they are in some sense restored to their lost beauty and are endowed with an inexpressible new grace."
He who could create all things from nothing would not remake his ruined creation without Mary. God, then, is the Father of the created world and Mary the mother of the re-created world. God is the Father by whom all things were given life, and Mary the mother through whom all things were given new life."
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