Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Adam's or Mary's?

Where are you? An interesting question coming from God. At the time He posed this question, there were only two people in the whole world...Adam and Eve...and so it's not as if God lost Adam in the crowd of people (and besides God is omniscient afterall). So it makes me wonder what God was really asking Adam....and what He is really asking me.

We know that Adam had just sinned...for the first time...the first sin. He ate the fruit that God had forbidden him to eat. And apparently eating this fruit (from the tree of knowledge of good and evil) opened Adam to a host of fears and paranoia and emotions...and knowledge. Adam's initial response to God is probably what we would all do...he answers based on his geographic location, though not getting too specific, and throws in a bit of a justification for why he is where he is (again forgetting or ignoring the fact that God knew where he was and knows his heart).
“I heard you in the garden;
but I was afraid, because I was naked,
so I hid myself.” Genesis 3:10
To this feeble answer, God asks another that essentially amounts to, "What did you do?" He is calling Adam out...encouraging Adam to confront and admit his sin.
Then he asked, “Who told you that you were naked?
Have you eaten from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?” Genesis 3:11
What continues from here is a spiraling blame game where Adam blames Eve, Eve blames the serpent, and God holds all of them accountable.

Now this reading was obviously selected because of it's connection to Mary (the new Eve) on the feast of her Immaculate Conception (not Jesus' conception). However, what leaps out at me when I consider all four of today's readings is the contrast between Adam and Eve's disobedience and Mary's complete assent and submission. One the one hand, we have ourselves...fallen, sinful, ashamed...and on the other hand we have who we are striving to be...humble, obedient, faithful. And in the midst of all this, God is asking...where we are on this continuum.

Our first instinct (much like Adam's) might be nonchalant...trying to respond as matter-of-factly as we can, but also trying to explain or justify why we are where we are. But we can see where that got Adam. No...if our true desire is to move closer to become like Mary...then we need to face our failures. We need to bravely examine our lives...our actions...our failures to act...and confront those times when we fell short of what God wants of us (and what we want for ourselves). We can only grow, if we learn from our mistakes...and we can only learn from mistakes if we recognize and acknowledge them. So God asks where we are...not so he can hear our answer....but so we can hear our answer. C.S. Lewis notes that prayer doesn't change changes us. And that is what is at play here. God requires that we examine ourselves and confess our sins...not because God needs us to do this...but because He knows we need this.

If we can be this honest with ourselves...and this honest with God...then we can "sing a new song unto the Lord" and then can we hope to achieve (though not through our own power...but God's) what God called us to from before we were born.
...He chose us in Him, before the foundation of the world,
to be holy and without blemish before Him.
In love He destined us for adoption to Himself through Jesus Christ,
in accord with the favor of His will,
for the praise of the glory of His grace
that He granted us in the beloved. Ephesians 3:4-5

And so on this feast of Mary's Immaculate conception, let us consider the incredible example of her obedience...and answer for ourselves...where are we? Is our relationship with God more like Adam's...or more like Mary's?

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