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Blog: June 9, 2024

Fr. Jeff and others share reflections on the Sunday readings.

June 9, 2024

A Message from Fr. Jeff

“After the man, Adam, had eaten of the tree,
the LORD God called to the man and asked him, ‘Where are you?’
He answered, ‘I heard you in the garden;
but I was afraid, because I was naked, so I hid myself.’
Then he asked, ‘Who told you that you were naked?
You have eaten, then, from the tree of which I had forbidden you to eat!’

Today’s first reading from Genesis is the fallout from the original sin. It has consequences for us all, for all humanity throughout time. We can sometimes balk at the thought of being born in sin, especially when we see the beauty and innocence of a newborn baby, but it signifies the evil in our world and in our hearts. Though inherently good, the world and our hearts are not inherently in a state of grace. The potential for evil abounds. I appreciate the thoughts of Wendell Berry, a poet, novelist, and essayist from Kentucky. He is, perhaps first and foremost, a farmer and something of an eccentric Christian. I have read all of his novels, some of his essays, and a few of his poems. Spiritually, he has helped move me from the metaphor of climbing the mountain to tilling the soil. Politically, he may be characterized as liberal and an environmentalist with a strong commitment to life from conception to natural death and the value of marriage. In other words, he doesn’t fit neatly into our contemporary political categories. His take, in a poem titled Original Sin, I found illuminating and worth quoting in full:

Well, anyhow, it preserves us from the pride
of thinking we invented sin ourselves
by our originality, that famous modern power.
In fact, we have it from the beginning
of the world by the errors of being born,
being young, being old, causing pain
to ourselves, to others, to the world, to God
by ignorance, by knowledge, by intention,
by accident. Something is bad the matter 
here, informing us of itself, handing down
its old instruction. We know it
when we see it, don’t we? Innocence
would never recognize it. We need it
too, for without it we would not know 
forgiveness, goodness, gratitude,
that fund of grace by which alone we live. 

It reminded me of the Exultet, or the Proclamation of Easter, sung at the Easter Vigil each year before the newly lighted Paschal Candle: 

O truly necessary sin of Adam,
destroyed completely by the Death of Christ!
O happy fault that earned so great, so glorious a Redeemer!

It is only because of the fall of Adam and Eve that Jesus came to save us. God so loved the world that he sent his only begotten son as our redeemer. It is in this sense, then, that the church calls the original sin necessary and a happy fault. In Berry’s words, “We need it…”. The love and grace poured out for us in Jesus Christ overwhelms sin and death! Alleluia!