February 8, 2017
(St. Jerome Emiliani, Priest)
Then the LORD God planted a garden in Eden, in the east, and he placed there the man whom he had formed. Out of the ground the LORD God made various trees grow that were delightful to look at and good for food, with the tree of life in the middle of the garden and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
The LORD God then took the man and settled him in the garden of Eden, to cultivate and care for it. The LORD God gave man this order: “You are free to eat from any of the trees of the garden except the tree of knowledge of good and evil. From that tree you shall not eat; the moment you eat from it you are surely doomed to die.” Gn_2:4-9,15-17
Thus, we were given food to eat and work to occupy us and keep us from becoming lazy. We were also given our first commandment: “Holy orders,” if you will, directly from God. And note too, that God did not just say “Thou shalt not…” God gave Adam the REASON. IF you do, you are doomed to die! But if you listen and obey, you will enjoy this paradise with me forever.
Another beautiful gift from God to His creation. And this was not a trivial choice! It was life or death, paradise or hell, trust and protection or stubborn independence and isolation! Funny how some people have such a hard time with trust, obedience and submission. It’s exactly what Jesus was talking about when He told His followers to become like children – they still instinctively trust! We’ll see Friday what happened, though I guess we already know!
Jesus summoned the crowd again and said to them, “Hear me, all of you, and understand. Nothing that enters one from outside can defile that person; but the things that come out from within are what defile.” . . . From within the man, from his heart, come evil thoughts, unchastity, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, licentiousness, envy, blasphemy, arrogance, folly. All these evils come from within and they defile.” Mk_7:14-23
OK, so if all of this evil is within us, how do we overcome it? Well the truth is, we can’t! The only way the evil can be overcome is through God Himself! And yet, we still have that God-given gift of Choice. We can choose to allow God, through the Holy Spirit, to cleanse us of those evils. Or, just like Adam, we can choose the path of stubborn independence – “We don’t need no God!”
Well, just maybe, that’s what the gift of choice was all about. God wanted to give us every chance possible to choose Him. And we have these long (and sometimes short) lives to make that choice. And God will love us through it, no matter how stubborn we may be. But in the end, what we get will be OUR choice! The trick is, WHEN that end will be, is our great unknown. There just may not be – any last minute changes of mind. And the black and white of it all is absolutely obvious in our world today. Life or death, obedience or rebellion, love or hate, eternity with God in paradise or eternal suffering!
It’s our choice!
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