The Old Testament readings this 5th week in Ordinary Time are drawn from Genesis. I’m reminded of what a very short journey it was for Adam and Eve from the pure joy of being God’s beloved creation to the confusion and darkness wrought by the Evil One as he dangled the double temptations of personal power and equality with God before them — and they bit, if you’ll pardon a small pun.
The first response of the first man and woman, once they had separated themselves from God by disobeying His will, was the realization of their sin, reflected in the understanding that they were naked and in their attempt to cover their nakedness. And their second response was to try to hide from God. Knowing that their sin had separated them from Him, they tried to go even further away from Him. Because there had never before been sin, Adam and Eve did not yet know about God’s justice, mercy, compassion, and forgiveness. They knew, thanks to Satan’s work, only to fear God’s punishment. And so they hid.
The writer(s) of Genesis do not tell us how Satan reacted to this byplay; we can only imagine it. The homily I heard this morning sheds some light on it, though. Father G. was talking about St. Teresa of Avila’s vision of Hell, with the place that Satan had reserved for her, and these words jumped out at me: “Satan does not like you.” The Devil does not want us in a state of sin because he likes us and wants us to be with him; he wants us that way as a way of separating us from God, not because he likes us but because he hates God.
God, on the other hand, the all-powerful Creator of all things — including us, and including the fallen angels — God is full of love for us and constantly wants good for us. He also has a place reserved for us in Heaven, and it is a very different place from the little pit full of slime and vermin and slithery things that St. Teresa of Avila was shown. Rather than eternal confinement in a small space of ugliness and darkness and filth, God has for us a place of eternal freedom, light, joy, and bliss in His presence. And fortunately for us, He wants us to enjoy that place far more than the Devil wants us in his own horrid place.
And yet we humans, still possessed of our sinful natures, we still sin, and when we find ourselves standing thus separated from God, we seek to hide from Him. We hide in shame; we hide in defiance; we hide in our failure to understand that He is not only ready to forgive us, He wants to forgive us and to bring us back into His presence.
What if I could live a life so grounded in faith that if — when — I sin, I am instantly aware of my Father’s desire to forgive me so that instead of hiding from Him in darkness, I turn toward His Light? What if my days, right down to the hours and minutes of them, were so filled with His grace that even as my foot slips, I know I can reach for His hand and return to the safety of His love?
Sin is the disease of our souls from which we all desire healing. We can’t heal ourselves, and we can’t avail ourselves of the healing that comes from our Lord if we are hiding from Him. I am thinking, at this moment, of those stories in the Gospels where those in need of healing sought to touch just the hem of His garment or the tassels of His cloak — and in doing so, they were healed!
Father God, let me not hide from You in my sin. Rather let me instantly see my sin in Your light, and grant me grace to seek Jesus and through Him forgiveness. Let me reach for the hem of His garment, the tassel of His cloak — let me, in grace, always be reaching for Him and never hiding from Him. Please, Father, keep me always mindful of Your everlasting love, the love that seeks and desires to forgive me and keep me close to You even in my worst moments. And through the intercession of our Blessed Mother, please keep my heart and soul on the path You have laid out for me to lead me to the place You have reserved for me in Heaven. In Jesus’ name I ask these things of my loving Father. Amen.
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