Compendium Numbers 73-78
When we speak about the fall, we are generally talking about the fall of man from friendship with God. But before we speak about the fall of man, we need to talk about the fall of the angels. Christian revelation teaches us that the angels, after their creation and before they had beheld fully the glory of God, were given a test. We don’t know for sure what this test was, but many mystics and theologians have proposed that the test was a communication of the plan of man’s redemption – ie the incarnation. The fallen angels found the notion of worshiping something bodily, someone who knows things, not immediately as they do, being pure spirits, but beings who know the world and natural truth through the medium of the senses. To put a bit of explanation on that, Angels don’t have bodies, they’re pure spirits, so they have a natural knowledge, a knowledge natural to their existence, by which they immediately know all naturally occurring realities and events as they unfold. They have a supernatural knowledge through God, through which they can know the future, and anything else that God chooses to reveal to them. The Angels when they fell, kept their natural knowledge, but lost their supernatural knowledge. Those Angels who rebelled against God, have rebelled irrevocably, because a pure spirits, they were not deceived into their sin. They were not tempted by another, but simply, out of their pride, knowing the irrevocable nature of their decision, they chose to turn against God.
The leader of these rebel angels is known as Satan. He is the one who tempts Adam and Eve in the garden.
So right off the bat we can see something important: Good and evil are not two primordial forces which have been at each others throats since the beginning of time. No. Evil is not a substance, it’s not a positive thing. It is a privation, or a deprivation. It is quite simply a lack of due good. Those Angles who fell, allowed envy and pride to swallow them whole. And so they seek to drag down humanity along with them. Misery after all, does love company.
This takes us to chapter 3 of the Genesis. The fall of man. There is soooo much going on here.
Firstly we recognise that Adam and Eve have been given a command. Don’t eat of the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. Right at this point, they know the love of God, that’s what constitutes their understanding of goodness, is this loving relationship. What God doesn’t want for them, is to know goodness as a concept which stands in contrast to evil which the experience through perpetration and victimhood.
This brings us to Satan. The leader of the futile and evil rebellion against God. In his pride and malice he is in the garden of Eden to tempt Adam and Eve. We’re told he manifests as a snake, and we often see depicted in movies and books a teeny little garden snake. This not the image the Hebrew gives to us. It gives us the image of a leviathan. A sea monster. Something alluring, yet frightening.
He tempts them, an notice how he tempts them. With an intellectual temptation. Nota physical one. He sows doubt. Makes an alluring offer. But its all a great big lie. And thats what we notice in his temptation of Adam and Eve – It all starts with a lie – Did God really say you couldn’t eat of the trees in the garden? A liar from of old. He sows doubt regarding God’s goodness.
So Eve takes him up on the temptation, and then gives it to her husband. Now at this point we sometimes find Eve is blamed for the fall. An ‘if not for her’ mentality. Well…Where was Adam in all this while his wife is being tempted? He is right next to her! The scripture says that Eve turned to her husband, not that she went and found her husband, but she turned to him. He was right there, every bit as responsible as Eve.
Adam is called in Genesis 2:15 to till the garden and ‘keep it’. The Hebrew word for ‘keep’ – Shamar – actually translates to protect and guard. So actually, it was Adam’s duty to protect and guard Eve, which by allowing Satan to dialogue with Eve, he left her unprotected. So he too failed.
Eve, made in the image and likeness of God, reflects ‘helper’ and as human kind she also is meant to show us receptivity. Instead what we see with her, is that she loses focus on what is her call, to be a helper, and instead begins to focus on what she is supposedly lacking because of satan’s questioning and instilling of doubt. She forgets that her primary disposition is meant to be one of receptivity, and instead grasps for the fruit. Instead of trusting that God will give her anything and everything that she needs, instead she distrusts and grasps for what she thinks she needs.
So Adam and Eve fall and they where do they fall from – they fall or stumble out of relationship with God. What are the effects of the fall?
Before the fall:
After the Fall
Loss of sanctifying grace
Lost the likeness to God
Distorted His Image in us
SO a lot has gone wrong! And what is God’s response. He asks them a question: Where are you? (Take a moment to ask what tone of voice you hear God speaking in, when you hear this next part) – (can we use your fab voice skills here to read a section with different emotions?)
Bring to mind that we continue to experience the impact of the fall today, even as we read this same passage that we know all too well.
What we actually hear… This isn’t enraged parent talking, but a gentle Father. Where are you? He gives them a moment for reflection! Where am I? God asks, “Who told you were naked? Have you eaten of the fruit I told you not to eat?” And instead of sufficiently taking that point of reflection up, after declaring that they’re hiding, they both go into blame mode.
God bypasses it all, through the protoevangelium – The first proclamation of the Gospel. He promises that the horror they’ve gotten into is not their ending. And full on stares satan down.
I will place enmity between you and the woman, between you seed and her seed, and he shall crush your head and you shall bruise his heel.
God is gonna correct this. When man, chooses himself over God, to the point of contempt for God, God doesn’t turn away from him. He mercifully nurtures him through history, back to spiritual health.
Fastfoward to the Incarnation, death and resurrection of Jesus.
Romans 5:8-11 “but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. 9 Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. 10 For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. 11 More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.”
I think this is the take home of the fall. God loves us to the point of death, even though we were His enemeis. Now that’s love.
TBG (Truth, Beauty, Goodness)
Stina : Grace Feltoe
Padre: Romano Guardini, meditations in preparation for Mass