God created us with a desire to be like Him. We have a tendency to confuse that innate wanting to be like God with a desire to be God. In the first reading, Adam and Eve disobeyed God. God created them, set the parameters and gave them dominion over all creation. They decided that instead of being like God and operating within the order He created, they wanted to be God and determine what is good and evil for themselves. This crossing over from desiring to be like God to acting as God is what resulted in the break in the relationship with God and as a result of the break in Adam and Eve’s relationship with God, they experience shame in their bodies and tell God they have hid because they are naked.
God doesn’t yell. He doesn’t chastise. He doesn’t lecture. He simply asks them how they knew they were naked.
How often do we not feel shame when we should? Someone wiser than me once explained that drawing closer to God is like turning and driving into the sunrise. The dead bugs, smears, and flotsam on our windshield doesn’t really bother us, until we drive into the sunlight. The sins and wrong choices in our life aren’t always obvious, until we start to align our lives with what God calls us to be. Sinning is not so much choosing evil over good as it is wanting to choose for ourselves what is good and what is evil. As we stop deciding for ourselves what is good and evil and trust God, just like our windshield in the morning light, all the little things that separate us from God start to stand out.
In the Gospel, Jesus says that a house divided against itself cannot stand. Our culture tells us over and over that there are so many other things that we should put first. But just like Adam and Eve, when we put the created (including ourselves) before the Creator, we are that divided house and we will not be able to stand.
I love how all these readings go together. Our hope is found in the words of the Psalms, “If you, O Lord, mark iniquities, Lord, who can stand? But with you is forgiveness, that you may be revered.” I think of the disciples choosing a replacement for Judas Iscariot, they put first being a witness to the Jesus’s resurrection, once that was in place, they could leave everything to chance and know they were oriented in the right direction.
We can do that too. As we discern right and wrong, as we prioritize our time, talent, and treasure, we can ask ourselves which decision will help us to be the best witness to the resurrection of Jesus. Once that is in place, we have oriented ourselves to the Light and will be able to recognize when we have confused being God with desiring to be like God.
And, as I recognize my own shame, my own nakedness, I can rest in, “With the Lord there is mercy, and the fullness of redemption.”
While wearing many hats, Sheryl O’Connor is the wife and study buddy of Thomas O’Connor. Not having received the gift of having their own children, their home is filled with 2 large dogs and their hearts with the teens and youth with whom they work in their parish collaborative. Sheryl is the Director of Strong Families Programs for Holy Family Healthcare which means her job is doing whatever needs to be done to help parents build strong Catholic families. Inspired by the works of mercy, Holy Family Healthcare is a primary healthcare practice in West Michigan which seeks to honor the dignity of every individual as we would Christ. Find out more at https://www.holyfamilyhealthcare.org/