More very important things today.
Genesis Chapter 3
Things quickly take a pivotal turn in today’s reading. Satan, in the form of a serpent gets Eve to eat of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. She shares this fruit with her husband and humans fall into original sin.
The first point to make is that women are not soley responsible for original sin. Remember from yesterday that woman was made as a helper to man. Helper does not mean subordinate, helper means complementary. What would have happened if Eve eaten and Adam had not. I don’t think we can know. However, what we can say is that the two are one flesh and it took both to cause the downfall of man.
God quickly learns of the sin of Adam and Eve and a strange scene plays out. God, while walking through the garden call out to them. They are hiding. When God finds them he asks them what they’ve done. Having been found out they CONFESS. Notice, God did not need to ask where they were hiding. God did not need to ask what they did. God is omniscient, He knows everything. So why did God ask them? Because God also knows us. After all, He made us. He knows we need to speak our sins for them to become real to us. He knows we need confession and repentance to be fixed. So even though he didn’t have to ask, He calls Adam and Eve to confession.
Next God hands down punishments. First to Satan. He says,
“I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers: They will strike your head while you strike at her heel.”
This is called the “protoevangellium”. It is the first promise of the good news, of the messiah. This offspring will be born of “the woman”. Later, we will see Jesus refer to Mary as “woman”. He will do this at the beginning of his public ministry when at the Wedding Feast of Cana he works his first miracle and He will do it from the cross when He gives Mary into John’s care. Thus, Jesus bookends his entire ministry by referring to Mary as woman. Correspondingly, we see the woman introduced here in Genesis, the first book of the Bible and we see her triumphant in the last book, the Book of Revelation. The woman clearly is Mary. To have enmity with someone is to be in opposition to them. Thus Mary is in opposition to Satan. If a person commits sin, would they be in opposition or in line with Satan? Obviously, the latter, a sinner is in line with Satan. Thus, Mary must be conceived and live without sin.
It is reinforced by what we read yesterday. For, all New Testament fulfillments are superior to their Old Testament counterparts. Mary is the new Eve. As the original Eve was conceived without sin, so therefore must Mary be conceived without sin. For Mary’s “new eve” would not be superior to the garden’s Eve if Mary had been born with sin. This is particularly fitting as it will be Mary’s “Yes” to God, that will undue Eve’s “no”. Importantly, this in no way takes away from the work of our Lord. It is simply proper and fitting to undue the fall in every manner that man (Jesus) and woman (Mary) together say Yes to God’s plan for salvation.
The next punishment is the pains of child birth to women. We won’t focus on that now because of time and space. However, we need to look briefly at the punishment to Adam. In the garden, food was free, it simply was picked from the trees. Notice the punishment given Adam:
By the sweat of your brow you shall eat bread.
Now, the main staple of human existence will have to labored for. The soil will have to be worked, grain will have to be planted, the wheat will have to be picked, it will have to husked, then milled, then mixed and baked. All to get the most basic food – bread. Of course, Jesus will one day take bread and say, “this is my body” and “unless you eat my flesh and drink my blood you do not have life within you”. This is the first pre-figurement of another great undoing of the fall. As the fall came through eating “fruit” so salvation will come through eating. Jesus will bring the “fruit of the vine” or wine together with bread to allow man to eat again of the tree of life – his very body hanging on the cross. Pray on this for a while – its very powerful stuff.
Matthew Chapter 2 – the Magi.
There are lots of things in Matthew 2 but I would like to focus on the Magi. The follow I got from a homily from Father Robert Baron who’s preaching can be found on a website called Word of Fire or on Youtube.
The Magi are from the east. We don’t know who they are exactly but there are two very plausible theories. First, the Magi may be descendants of Daniel who was taken to Babylon during the second slavery. When Daniel convinced the king to release the Jews and allow them to return we know he and some others stayed behind. Assuming they had children and remained Jews this would explain why they cared about signs in the sky about a Jewish king. We also know that Babylon had a legitimate school of astronomy. The second theory is that the Magi are descendants of Balaam. Balaam is a sorcerer in the book of numbers who is asked to curse Israel. However, by the power of God he cannot do so and can only speak blessings. He gives the prophecy of the star. Assuming he had descendants this family story might have been passed down with his children being very interested in the fulfillment of the prophecy. Of course, if is possible that both theories might be partially true.
But what is most important is what the Magi teach us!
The magi SEARCH – the magi do not passively wait for God to reveal himself. Rather they search the night sky for signs of him.
The magi STUDY – it would be pointless for the magi to search the night sky if they didn’t know what to look for. Thus the magi are clearly studying the scripture to know the signs from God.
The magi GO – when seeing the sign the magi don’t just congratulate themselves. They don’t merely pray. They go, they undertake the journey to follow God where he leads them.
The magi SUFFER – the journey from the east to Jerusalem would have been many day, probably months. Weather would be the least of their worries. Money, supplies would be needed. Families left behind. Robbers, thieves, and wild animals would have been threats.
The magi are OPPOSED. Upon their arrival they seek out Herod to pay respect and find the child. Notice Herod pretends to side with them but secretly he conspires against them. This is how the world will treat the followers of God.
The magi GIVE – traditionally the three gifts – gold, frankincense and myrrh – represent the three aspects of Jesus. Gold because he is King. Incense because He is Priest and myrrh (which is perfume used for embalming) because He is human and will die for us. However, the three gifts also represent us. We are to give God our earthly treasure, our souls and our human lives.
The magi are CHANGED – they go back by a different route and everyone who encounters Christ is changed and cannot travel the same path again.