Wednesday of the Fifth Week of Lent – March 21, 2018

God also said: “See, I give you every seed-bearing plant all over the earth and every tree that has seed-bearing fruit on it to be your food; and to all the animals of the land, all the birds of the air, and all the living creatures that crawl on the ground, I give all the green plants for food.”  Genesis 1:29-30

This verse shows God’s providential care for all of creation.

God made two species of plants for man and one species for all the animals of the land.  The man and the woman get the better food: seed-bearing plants and seed-bearing fruit, a reference once again to man’s future vehicles for spiritual food in wheat for bread and grapes for wine. The animals are given what amounts to grass.

God is clearly elevating man above the rest of the creation, this time in the presentation of food.

This is a good place to put to words what has been made clear throughout chapter one of Genesis. These two writers can say it much better than I: “the world exists because of man and certainly to serve him in order to glorify God.”[1] “…here on earth, too, no less than in the heavens and in the world of ideas, order prevails: every creature from the oyster to the emperor has its place; preordained and eternal. Its not simply a matter of faith: the best philosophical and scientific minds have proved that it is so.” [2]

[1] Fr. Jose F. Sagues, S.J. in his treatise De Deo Creante et Elevante
[2] Jamie James, The Music of the Spheres

But for the last God saw how good it was in Genesis 1:31, which we’ll reflect upon tomorrow, this concludes the creation account in Genesis. It is a good time step back and ponder it as a whole. A whole that is not pantheistic, since God the Creator is clearly distinct from creation, and has deliberately ordered it in a hierarchical manner that has been demonstrated in today’s verse, as well as in fill the earth and subdue it, and the have dominion directives illustrate. [1]

[1] Genesis 1:28

The breathtaking view of the creation of the soul and the natural world entwined in Genesis is the basis for the harmony that existed between man, creation and Creator before sin entered the world.

Venerable Archbishop Fulton Sheen talked about how original sin became a discordant note in the original symphony. Let us take up and continue his fascinating imagery.  An orchestral symphony has four parts called movements, conceived as a whole that relate to one another; in our imagery its the whole of man’s salvation. The first movement in the symphony of salvation relates to the first movement of an orchestral symphony – the sonata which is brisk and lively – this is likened to the six days of creation. God creates with a purposeful pace the wide and varied cosmos and living creatures that resonate on his canvas. Just as deliberate is God’s pre-figurement of his Son Jesus Christ and his Sacramental Church during these six holy days, proving this was always plan A, there was never a plan B. God was disappointed in the Fall but not surprised. The second movement of the symphony of man’s salvation is  compared to the second movement in an orchestral symphony: slow, lyrical, emotional. This second movement is Israel’s intense roller coaster relationship with God; their ponderous 40 year trek through the desert continuing through the Old Testament and God’s passionate, wrath-filled love affair with his chosen people. The third movement in a symphony is a minuet, or dance. In the third movement of man’s salvation, God himself descends from heaven afar off  in the person of Jesus Christ to dance individually and intimately with each and every one of his people in order to raise them to the glory of adopted sons and daughters of God. It is a dance that includes one sacrificial death borne personally for each individual soul, correcting the discordant note of sin that happened after the first movement of creation. The symphony’s spirited finale, both in man’s salvation and orchestral, shows off virtuoso prowess. It begins with with Jesus’ triumphant Resurrection then ultimately concluding with the resurrection of the entire Body of Christ. Handel’s rousing Messiah finale comes to mind: And he shall reign for ever and ever, and he shall reign for ever and ever -Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!

Back to the broken harmony of creation:

The Catechism of the Catholic Church describes man’s first sin in 400: “The harmony in which they found themselves, thanks to original justice, is now destroyed…” “Harmony with creation is broken: visible creation has become alien and hostile to man.” [2]  Though this harmony be broken, Genesis reveals its roots in the intricate web of creation in the waters of the soul, the light of life, the sun of reason, the night of faith, the will of the sea swimming with love, virtues and passions, the memory and all the living creatures of the earth.  Since we are unable to see our souls, God teaches us its wonderment, beauty, and operations through the natural world. The mystical night of faith is literally on display in the cosmic night, silently proclaiming His Word.

[2] CCC footnotes 282 cf. Gen 3:7-16 & 283 cf. Gen 3:7-16

We turn again to St. Francis of Assisi, who in his sanctity is a model for regaining a profound sense of harmony with creation, as much as can be in a world ravaged by sin. Francis celebrated people as individuals and all creatures’ uniqueness, and at the same time their familial origin in God. It may surprise people to realize the jubilant St. Francis was a hermit before organizing his community of brothers, rebuilding San Damiano Church and prayerfully wandering the countryside in solitude. Healthy solitaries, or hermits, retire to run to something, not from something, generally in a natural setting. This is how and where Francis lost himself, and found everything: the harmony of God, people, himself and all of creation.  And he would, like so many other saints who spend time apart emptying and finding, return to serve God and his people with little regard for self.

USCCB Daily Readings March 21, 2018

The USCCB has not reviewed or approved my comments on the Biblical text.

Thursday of the Fifth Week of Lent – March 22, 2018

God also said: “See, I give you every seed-bearing plant all over the earth and every tree that has seed-bearing fruit on it to be your food; and to all the animals of the land, all the birds of the air, and all the living creatures that crawl on the ground, I give all the green plants for food.” And so it happened. God looked at everything he had made, and he found it very good.  Genesis 1:29-31

God declares in his reference to his Divine Providence, worship, the natural order of creation, and the authority given to the man and the woman – the Gift of Piety, one of the Seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit to be given at Pentecost. The gift of piety perfects religion.[1]

Prompted by the Holy Spirit, piety renders worship an act of love and is the instinctive affection for God as a loving Father, which causes the soul to worship, pray, and foster devotion to God effortlessly with joy. This overflows into an increase of love of neighbor as brothers and sisters in Christ. Reliance on God’s Divine Providence is part of the gift of piety, as he shows the man and woman the food he created for them. [2]

The spiritual reference to worship in the seed-bearing plants and seed-bearing fruit which will become the vehicles for the Holy Eucharistic also points to the gift of piety. The gift of piety also includes respect for the natural order, as established by God. The man and the woman together as a pair represent the natural order. God giving them the better food over the rest of the creatures shows their order in creation.

The man and the woman are to have dominion over creation, to fill the earth and subdue it, which is both the natural order and authority, also part of this gift. Authority includes a respect for all authority the soul finds himself subject to, whether it be of the Church or secular. It is ultimately God speaking to the soul through those with authority, if it does not go against God’s written law or the natural order.

[1] Modern Catholic Dictionary by Fr. John A. Hardon, S.J.
[2] Fr. Andrew Apostoli, EWTN Sunday Night Prime: The Holy Spirit’s Gift of Piety

All seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit woven throughout Genesis 1 and the soul herald the Sacrament of Confirmation, the third supportive pillar of the temple of the soul present in the Genesis creation account; along with the Sacrament of Holy Communion, and the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony. Confirmation completes baptismal grace, one of the ways is by increasing the Seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit. There is one pillar left to be foretold in Genesis.

When God looked at everything he had made, all was in place for life to be lived as full and complete human beings, and he found it very good.

In today’s Daily Readings, God speaks to Abraham of the covenant he is establishing with him and his descendants.

USCCB Daily Readings March 22, 2018

The USCCB has not reviewed or approved my comments on the Biblical text.

We will be quiet for three days to prepare for Holy Week and will resume our reflection on Genesis Monday March 26, ending on Easter Sunday. God Bless Everyone, have a Blessed Holy Week, and please come back on Monday.

Monday of Holy Week – March 26, 2018

In Chapter 2 of Genesis, God establishes his first covenant with humanity: the man and the woman are not to eat of the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and bad that stands in the middle of the garden where God placed them, for the moment they eat of it they are doomed to die. God’s reference to death is both physical and a spiritual – both are a separation from communion with his divine nature. The physical death takes some years, the spiritual death is immediate. In return, God provides for their needs with effortless access to the rest of the fruit in the beautiful garden. By placing a forbidden tree in the garden, God is providing the man and woman with their choice to remain in relationship with him. If God had given them only what he wanted them to have in the garden, they would not have had the freedom to choose.

 CHAPTER 3

The Fall of Man.   Now the serpent was the most cunning of all the animals that the LORD God had made. The serpent asked the woman, “Did God really tell you not to eat from any of the trees in the garden?”
Genesis 3:1

With the creation of man, woman, and their covenant, God is now the LORD God.

In the very first sentence we are told the serpent was one of the animals made by God, and the most cunning of them all.  “Cunning” is using knowledge with deception or evasion to achieve one’s goals. God didn’t make the serpent cunning, this was an attribute he achieved on his own, as we shall soon see. According to God’s instructions, the serpent, who is also man’s spiritual adversary the devil, [1] is one of the animals the man and the woman are to have dominion over, despite its cunning nature. Cunning, as we read, requires knowledge.  St. John of the Cross writes on the power the devil has through knowledge in the soul’s memory: “all the worst deceptions which are caused by the devil, and the evils he brings to the soul, enter by way of knowledge and reflections of the memory.” [2]

[1] Wisdom 2:24; John 8:44; Rev 12:9; 20: 2
[2] A3,4,1

In the serpent’s first address to the woman, he is using her knowledge of the tree and what God said about it to make her delve into her memory for the answer; all of which he will use to his advantage. Additionally, the serpent drives the first wedge between God and the man and the woman with the words, “did God really tell you,” insinuating God’s rule about what fruit they can eat is questionable for the purpose of causing a negative reflection, as our Saint will tell us below. With this single sentence, the serpent circles his prey. Let us read further what St. John of the Cross has written about how the devil influences souls, principally by means of knowledge by way of the memory:

“The second positive evil that may come to the soul by means of the knowledge of the memory proceeds from the devil, who by this means obtains great influence over it. For he can continually bring it new forms, kinds of knowledge and reflections, by means whereof he can taint the soul with pride, avarice, wrath, envy, etc., and cause it unjust hatred, or vain love, and deceive it in many ways. And besides this, he is wont to leave impressions, and to implant them in the fancy, in such wise that those that are false appear true, and those that are true, false.”[3]

[3] ibid

St. John’s description perfectly describes what is transpiring between the serpent, the man, and the woman. It is a compelling lesson for all souls to have vigilance with reflections proceeding from the memory, as well as what is deposited into the memory via the body’s five senses. Though over time a soul might remember less, only God through his purgation process can remove forms from the memory. [4] In these modern times we see the absolute evil and destruction both psychologically and physiologically Satan manifests in souls when the memory is caught up in images from de-humanizing photos. The less wholesome the forms, the more powerful is his ammunition. Souls should respect and protect the sacred repository that is the memory.

[4] St. John on the purgation of the memory starting in A3,1,1

The serpent is one of “the animals the Lord God had made” on the sixth day, those natural living creatures of the earth. In Genesis, because there are no other humans yet created besides the man and woman, he represents naturally those persons who the devil works his evil through, like the physical serpent is doing with the man and woman here. Spiritually the serpent, like all the creatures of the earth God man on the sixth day, represents knowledge in the memory in all its various forms. Knowledge that the devil, as our Saint said, uses to wield his influence over the soul, like he is doing with the woman’s knowledge stored in her memory of the forbidden tree.

The woman answered the serpent: “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden; it is only about the fruit of the tree in the middle of the garden that God said, ‘You shall not eat it or even touch it, lest you die.’ But the serpent said to the woman: “You certainly will not die! No, God knows well that the moment you eat of it your eyes will be opened and you will be like gods who know what is good and what is bad.” Genesis 3:2-5

The serpent lies to the man and the woman that they won’t die upon eating the fruit of the forbidden tree. The devil, Jesus tells us, was a murderer from the beginning who does not stand in truth, because there is no truth in him. [5] The devil is after the man and woman’s death, whatever it takes.

[5] John 8:44

The serpent/devil dangles the bait:

“and you will be like gods who know what is good and what is bad.”

The “gods” of today will tell you that they know:

if the life of the child in their womb is good or bad

if the biological sex God gave them at birth is good or bad

if faithfulness to their spouse is good or bad

if the life of their suffering parent is good or bad

which sex marriage partner for them is good or bad

if continuing their own life is good or bad

if a place for God in society is good or bad

Seduced by the devil, [man wants] to “be like God,” but “without God, before God, and not in accordance with God.” [6]

[6] CCC 398 with footnote 279 St. Maximus the Confessor, Ambigua PG 91, 1156C; cf Gen 3:5

The serpent in Genesis demonstrates the two most common ways, naturally and spiritually, of how the devil exerts his influence over souls. He uses these individually, or both together. All the words of the serpent to the woman could have been spoken from an exterior source, or, proceeded from the woman’s interior encounter with temptation – the man’s silence during the woman’s exchange with the serpent bears this out.  Here is a summary of the serpent’s dual roles:

Naturally, the serpent represents persons who like all souls at their creation started life good; but then through wrong desires, choices, and lifestyles become prone to wickedness as tools of the devil, like the cunning serpent.  Of all the animals God created, the devil chose to work through the one in Genesis that had become the most cunning of them all, just as he has similarly chosen his human henchmen throughout the ages. God does not create evil or cunning.  God stated in his creation of both man and the animals of the earth, including reptiles, “God looked at everything he made, and he found it very good.” Genesis 1: 25 and 31

Spiritually, the serpent represents forms in the memory, which, like our St. John stated, the devil uses to his advantage. During our reflection upon the faculty of the memory and all the kinds of living creatures of the earth in chapter 1, we read from the Saint: “I say that natural knowledge in the memory consists of all the kinds of knowledge that the memory can form concerning the objects of the five bodily senses – namely hearing, sight, smell, taste, and touch – and all kinds of knowledge of this type which is possible to form and fashion.” [7] The memory of the knowledge of the tree and what God said about it is the serpent in Genesis, which the devil worked through and manipulated to his advantage. Therefore spiritually, the exchange with the serpent in Genesis represents the soul’s interior struggle with the devil’s temptations from forms in the memory.

[7] A3,2,4

Let us see how this plays out with respect to the man and the woman’s three spiritual faculties, God’s three divine image directives, and what the Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches about the three conditions necessary for mortal sin.

In today’s Gospel Reading, at a dinner gathering we hear from Judas the Iscariot who will betray Jesus. Judas, one of Jesus’ disciples, becomes a tool of the devil. Just like the serpent here who started life as one of the creatures in the beginning God had declared “good.”

USCCB Daily Readings March 26, 2018

The USCCB has not reviewed or approved my comments on the Biblical text.

Tuesday of Holy Week – March 27, 2018

Let us look at what the Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches about what constitutes mortal sin.

CCC 1855  Mortal sin destroys charity in the heart of man by a grave violation of God’s law; it turns man away from God, who is his ultimate end and his beatitude, by preferring an inferior good to him.

CCC 1861  [Mortal sin] results in the loss of charity and the privation of sanctifying grace, the state of grace. If it is not redeemed by repentance and God’s forgiveness, it causes exclusion from Christ’s kingdom and the eternal death of hell, for our freedom has the power to make choices forever, with no turning back.

CCC 1857 For a sin to be mortal, three conditions must together be met: Mortal sin is sin whose object is grave matter and which is also committed with full knowledge and deliberate consent. [1]

[1] CCC footnote 131: RP 17 #12

Grave matter: In short, the Catechism states in paragraph 1858 that grave matter is specified by the Ten Commandments.

The man and the woman in the garden didn’t have the Ten Commandments, just one commandment constituted their entire life or death covenant with God. For them, the tree of the knowledge of good and bad constituted grave matter. Their choice of its fruit, pleasing the eye of the man and woman, was for them a grave forgetfulness of God for an inferior good when they ate it. Forgetting God for an inferior good is a fall in the faculty of the memory; it was a grave fall for the man and woman when they ate the forbidden fruit and a grave fall for the rest of us when we forget God by sinning in any one of the Ten Commandments.

CCC 1859: Mortal sin requires full knowledge and complete consent. It presupposes knowledge of the sinful character of the act, of its opposition to God’s law. It also implies a consent sufficiently deliberate to be a personal choice.

If the sin committed is with full knowledge it is a fall in the faculty of the understanding. If the sin is committed with complete consent it is a fall in the faculty of the will.

Now the rest of the Genesis chapter 3 verses:

The woman saw that the tree was good for food, pleasing to the eyes, and desirable for gaining wisdom. Genesis 3:6

The serpent/devil, with little effort of suggestion, has gained access to all three faculties of the understanding, memory and will through the exterior sense of sight which was of the tree. From the body’s sense of sight, the birds of the air, which are the interior sense faculties, took over when “the woman saw” and imaged the three subsequent views of the tree. Unfortunately, these were selfish images her interior senses formed and not in accordance with God’s wishes who didn’t even want them to touch the tree. They were easily selfish since there was known to be other fruit in the garden they were free to eat from. Formed into self-serving images, dominion over the birds of the air, one of God’s divine image directives, was lost.  The birds of the air proceed to enter the spiritual faculties of the understanding, memory and will. From these selfish images they begin to break down their spiritual operations of knowledge, reflection and love:

the tree was good for food”: This is a rationalization of what the man and woman clearly understood about God’s command in her own statement to the serpent:  “God said, You shall not eat it or even touch it, lest you die.”[2]  Had she not excused away God’s command, but instead used reason to control her growing desire and passions [3] for gaining wisdom in a way that was not in accord with God’s law, she would have had a better chance of adhering it. Moreover, it is clear God’s law was understood with full knowledge, therefore the man and woman fell in the faculty of the understanding upon eating the fruit.

“He that acts according to reason is like one that eats of substantial food, and he that is moved by the desire of his will is like one that eats watery fruit.” St. John of the Cross, Spiritual Sentences and Maxims 43

[2] Genesis 3:3
[3] A3,16,5

“pleasing to the eyes”:  There is nothing wrong with finding beauty in God’s creation because it is meant to raise one’s mind and heart to God. It is not meant to be where the soul finds its ultimate gratification. If she would have allowed the beauty of the tree to raise her mind to God in reflection, she would not have fallen in this faculty and proceeded to eat the fruit of the tree which for them constituted grave matter.  By resting in the form of the tree and fruit instead, dominion over all the living things that move on the earth was lost, one of God’s divine image directives. It became a grave forgetfulness of God when they ate it, therefore it is a fall in the memory.

“and desirable for gaining wisdom”:  The will governs the faculties, passions, and desires, as St. John stated in our treatment of the four passions. The will of the woman was not in control of desire for the fruit which offered wisdom in a manner that went against God’s will. Therefore, dominion over the fish of the sea- the passions, was lost. It gave her joy to believe they could have the wisdom tempted by the serpent, she subsequently hoped for it and feared not to have it enough to eat of the forbidden fruit. If her will had been in control of the desire and passions, she would not have given consent to eating the fruit.  The man and the woman freely gave deliberate consent enough to be a personal choice regarding the grave matter of eating the fruit, resulting in a fall in the faculty of the will.

Of the three short reflections of the woman that precede eating the fruit, this is the only one, “desirable for gaining wisdom,” that directly relates to the words of the serpent/devil’s temptation of acquiring knowledge.  All the blessings God gave the soul’s will to follow his will when he created it on the 5th day is attacked by the devil in this verse. It is in the will that the devil severs the soul’s relationship with God.  Jesus, who in the First Sunday of Lent Gospel Reading, passed the test of the temptation of his will to worship Satan during the forty days in the desert when he said to the devil, “The Lord, your God, you shall worship, and him alone shall you serve.” Matthew 4:1-11  [4]

[4] It is in the desert temptations after his baptism and before the start of his public ministry that Jesus counters the fall in the spiritual faculties of the man and the woman in the Genesis garden. The other two tests in the desert were of Jesus’ memory and understanding, confirming him as the “spotless lamb.”

So she took some its fruit and ate it; and she also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. Genesis 3:6

Dazzled by the fruit and blinded by her desire, she reached for it like a moth drawn into the flame. [5]

“Desire blinds and darkens the soul, for desire as such is blind, and has no understanding in itself; it is like a child leading a blind man. And so it comes to pass that, whenever the soul is guided by its desire, it becomes blind; for this is as if one that sees were guided by one who sees not, which is, as it were, for both to be blind.”[6]

[5] A1,8,3 St. John describes a moth and its desire for the beauty of light, tragically leading it into the flame. [6] ibid

The desire the devil worked up in the man and woman for knowledge is actually blinding, while the Holy Spirit’s gift of knowledge enlightens the soul to God’s will for their life. The devil’s strategy is apparent.

The greatest of the theological virtues is charity[7] by which we love God above all things for his own sake. As said the virtue of charity belongs to the will. It is by sacrificial love we do another’s will, like Jesus doing the will of the Father.  The man and the woman fell hardest in this faculty by following their own will instead of God’s will thus breaking the bond of the superior virtue of love. Yet it is through man’s fall in love that God redeems us with his Infinite Love, giving us the example in Jesus words to “love one another as I have loved you.”[8]

[7] 1 Cor 13:13
[8] John 15:12

The serpent’s strike fatally wounds the three faculties of the soul of the man and the woman in the garden – the understanding, will and memory: what the Catechism of the Catholic Church calls a mortal sin.

Immediately prior to today’s Gospel Reading, Jesus washes all the disciples’ feet including, with ineffable humility, the feet of Judas. [9] Afterwards, Jesus said not all are clean, indicating his betrayer, Judas. God requires man’s co-operation of repentance to receive his cleansing Mercy.

In today’s Reading, Judas takes the dipped morsel Jesus hands him, confirming with full knowledge and deliberate consent it is he who will turn away from him, Jesus, his Lord and God. The morsel from the Lord is also unable to bestow even the smallest blessing on one who is resigned to evil. Judas’ affirmation of his forthcoming betrayal causes Satan to enter him, which is to say, Satan proceeded from influencing Judas via reflections and knowledge of his memory to taking possession of his will.  Jesus’ following words give Judas another chance to repent, but he must act promptly, implying only those who have been washed clean in repentance are to remain at the Lord’s Supper, which is ready to begin. How Jesus’ heart must have sank when Judas, without delay, departs the upper- room and enters into the darkness.

USCCB Daily Readings March 27, 2018

The USCCB has not reviewed or approved my comments on the Biblical text.

[9] John 13:1-11

 

 

 

Wednesday of Holy Week – March 28, 2018

Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized that they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made loincloths for themselves. Genesis 3:7

 

Just like the serpent promised their eyes were opened, opened to the same ego-centric perspective of the  serpent/devil, and they become aware of their bodies’ nakedness.  This immediately coincides with the loss of the clothing of original grace and holiness, which lays bare their souls with the indignity of their sin. Though their worldly eyesight opened, their spiritual eyesight shut down. The control of their soul’s spiritual faculties over the body is shattered. [1] Their choice was made, the spiritual dominion God gave them and directed them to maintain is lost. Ego and sense in humanity gain the upper hand.

[1] CCC 400 with footnote 282 Cf. Gen 3:7-16.

When they heard the sound of the LORD God moving about in the garden at the breezy time of the day, the man and his wife hid themselves from the LORD God among the trees of the garden. The LORD God then called to the man and asked him, “Where are you?” Genesis 3:8-9

God, who is all-knowing, knew the moment of their sin yet arrived in the garden at the breezy time of day. His immutability does not allow him to be moved to arrive in the garden before his chosen time by the man and woman’s disobedience. God knows too, exactly where the man and woman are naturally and spiritually; he called to the man to draw them out of both hiding places, just as he has called to every soul at least once down through the ages, “Where are you?” The sole exception is the Blessed Virgin Mary.

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!”  Genesis 3:10-11

The man, who had called the woman, “bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh,”[2] uses the self-centered word “I” four times in the one sentence rather than the unitive “we”, revealing his mental isolation from his wife after the sin.

[2] Genesis 2:23

The man and woman had enjoyed God’s friendship and company in the garden, but their physical and spiritual nakedness with loss of holiness gives rise to fear and shame to be in the presence of God’s glory, sending the man and woman into hiding at the sound of God in the garden.

The man replied, “The woman whom you put here with me – she gave me fruit from the tree, and so I at it.” The LORD God then asked the woman, “Why did you do such a thing?” The woman answered, “The serpent tricked me into it, so I ate it.” Genesis 3:12-13

Let us look closely at each of their responses to God’s question as to why. The man’s response was uncharitable toward both God and the woman, the only two he has a relationship with. In addition, he is declaring that between them he had no choices, no freedom of will: “the woman you put here with me” and “she gave me the fruit from the tree so I ate it.”  The man did have a choice and is using his weak will as an excuse as well as being uncharitable. The man appears to be having a difficult time managing his will, as well as exhibiting a lack of love.

The woman plainly admits her difficult time overcoming the wiles of the devil when she told God: “The serpent tricked me into it, so I ate it.” We will further explore these excuses with God’s response tomorrow.

One might ask why God didn’t cross examine the serpent/devil. The reason is God draws out and exhibits the man and woman’s weaknesses for all to see, because they are all of humanity’s weaknesses he will set aright for the sake of eternal glory. There is no reason to question the devil since his eternal fate is a done deal, and the serpent is an animal which is not subject to the same level of expectations as the man and woman who are made in God’s image and likeness.

The woman exhibits two examples through the one scenario of falling into sin led by the serpent/devil, illustrating both the natural and spiritual. When I say “spiritual” I’m referring to the devil’s use of interior temptation through forms of the memory.  She tells us there was a natural/physical tempter she had an actual verbal exchange with when she told God, “the serpent tricked me into it, so I ate it.” The man’s silence during her exchange with the serpent illustrates the spiritual example of a silent, interior encounter with temptation, for how can he comment on something he cannot hear? This can be the only explanation for his odd silence as she heads down the path of destruction. In both examples, she chose to form the same selfish views of the tree and its fruit, causing her to fall.

Scripture is clear that the woman ate, then handed some to the man, who ate of it. Upon her sin the woman herself immediately turns into a “serpent,” passing the sinful behavior on. The man taking the fruit from her and eating it is an example of the highly infectious nature of sin of which both men and women are subject to. The roles played by the man and women in this Genesis account can easily be reversed.

And of course, both falling into sin resulted from taking their gaze off of God, who earlier spelled out the three ways to maintain this in his divine image directives.

It is apparent neither had perfected faculties of the understanding or will before the serpent led them astray, or they wouldn’t have allowed themselves to be seduced into sin.  And certainly, eating of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil didn’t remedy this, as we can see by their present lack of capacity in these two faculties. Therefore, though innocent before their sin, they couldn’t share in the divine life of God. [3] The only way this can be achieved is through the perfected faculties of the understanding, will and memory, as our St. John described earlier. The Church proclaims the truth that humanity is in a potentially better position after the fall than before. [4] Once Jesus takes away the sin of the world through his Sacrifice on the Cross, the way is opened. Besides our Redeemer’s Sacrifice, God initiates a few “helps” for perfection of the spiritual faculties, as we shall presently see.

 [3] CCC 1812 with footnote 76: Cf. 2 Pet 1:4

[4] CCC 412 the Exsultet sings, ‘O happy fault,. . . which gained for us so great a Redeemer!'”308 St. Thomas Aquinas, STh III,1,3, ad 3; cf. Rom 5:20.

Let us finish today’s reflection, this time slowly pondering upon God’s question:

“Why did you do such a thing?”

Why
did you do
such a thing
turning away from me
choosing death

In today’s Gospel Reading, Judas turns away from God, choosing himself and cheap worldly goods for his betrayal of God; much the same way the man and woman in the garden turned away from God choosing themselves and dazzling worldliness. Both are deadly decisions.

USCCB Daily Readings March 28, 2018

The USCCB has not reviewed or approved my comments on the Biblical text.

 

Holy Thursday – March 29, 2018

God’s addresses to the man, woman, and serpent should be read slowly in its entirety, then we shall reflect upon each individually.

Then the LORD God said to the serpent:

“Because you have done this, you shall
                                   be banned                                                                              from all the animals
an
d from all the wild creatures;
On your belly shall you crawl,
and dirt shall you eat
all the days of your life.
I will put enmity between you and the
woman,
and between your offspring and
hers;
He will strike at your head,
while you strike at his heel.”

To the woman he said:
“I will intensify the pangs of your
childbearing;
in pain shall you bring forth children.
Yet your urge shall be for your husband,
and he shall be your master.”   

To the man he said: “Because you listened
to your wife and ate from the tree of
which I had forbidden you to eat,

“Cursed be the ground because of you!
In toil shall you eat its yield
all the days of your life.
Thorns and thistles shall it bring forth to you
as you eat of the plants of the field.
By the sweat of your face
shall you get bread to eat,
Until you return to the ground,
from which you were taken;
For you are dirt,
and to dirt you shall return.”
Genesis 3: 14-18


Then the LORD God said to the serpent:

“Because you have done this, you shall
be banned
from all the animals
and from all the wild creatures;
On your belly shall you crawl,
and dirt shall you eat
all the days of your life. 

The first part of God’s admonishment to the serpent on the natural level addresses those souls, like Judas Iscariot and every evil one before and since, that choose to live outside of God’s love and law; especially those who tempt others to follow evil ways. It is God separating the bad from the good to preserve the good, and a warning to all souls who allow the devil to work through them. We see God’s promise to the serpent in Genesis that he will be banned from all the other creatures has come true in life for fallen souls; Judas becomes estranged from the rest of Jesus’ disciples and hangs himself in a lonely field, [1] empty with despair because his hope was not with Jesus. Law breakers who hurt others are banned from society, beginning with God’s banishment of Cain after he kills Abel. God uses the same word “banned” with both the serpent and with Cain. [2]

[1] Matthew 27:3-10
[2] Genesis 4:11

The spiritual meaning of the first part of God’s statement to the serpent addresses the deadly forgetfulness of God; the knowledge of the forbidden tree and its fruit in the memory of the woman that the devil worked through to cause the fall. God is putting all humanity on alert, this form is different and dangerous from all the good animals / forms and knowledge in the memory created on the 5th day. God will establish with Israel and humanity his covenant which spells out the complete mortal forgetfulness of him in the Ten Commandments in the Book of Exodus, thereby further clarifying and separating (banning) the bad from the good.

The next verse is God’s very first appearance of his merciful love toward fallen humanity. It is no surprise it relates directly to his Son, our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. With the next verse spoken directly to Satan operating under the cover of his tool the serpent, God establishes and initiates fallen humanity in the theological virtue of Hope, proclaiming a future Redeemer, offspring of the woman who is Mary, will have the upper hand:

I will put enmity between you and the woman,
and between your offspring and hers;
He will strike at your head,
while you strike at his heel.”

There is indeed enmity between Mary and Satan. The offspring of Satan God is referring to are his future serpent workers of iniquity; those humans who become his henchmen that he uses to accomplish evil in the world. Jesus’ victory on the Cross is a strike at Satan’s head, while all he is able to accomplish is a feeble strike at Our Savior’s heel.

In Paul’s letter to Titus 2:13, he tells us Jesus is still our hope: as we await the blessed hope, the appearance of the glory of the great God and of our savior Jesus Christ.

It is at this virtual moment, upon God settling humanity in the great virtue of Hope, the Church rejoices at the Paschal Vigil Mass Exsultet:

O happy fault, . . .which gained for us so great, so glorious, a Redeemer!

A Redeemer who will bring more good to humanity than if the man and the woman had remained innocent. A Redeemer who elevates man to the status of adopted sons and daughters of God. [3] Though the serpent/devil “tricked” the woman, God outmaneuvers him on our behalf by giving humanity Hope in Jesus Christ.

[3] Ephesians 1:5

It was fitting that we should have such a high priest: holy, innocent, undefiled, separated from sinners, higher than the heavens. Hebrews 7:26

Our Redeemer Jesus Christ is indeed holy, innocent, and undefiled. It was in this way he was separated from sinners, as the evil serpent was separated by God from all the good creatures. Jesus is higher than the heavens, the serpent was made by God to crawl on his belly. Jesus’ disciples will eat from the life giving heavenly banquet of Holy Communion; the serpent, for coaxing the man and woman into eating from the forbidden tree, is made by God to eat dirt all the days of his life.

But God will not give man eternal life without his co-operation.

In God’s address to the woman, he initiates his second act of merciful love to humanity by establishing the theological virtue of Charity:

To the woman he said: 

I will intensify the pangs of your childbearing;
in pain shall you bring forth children.
Yet your urge shall be for your husband,
and he shall be your master.”

Though the woman’s answer to God revealed she had a weakness to the deceits of the devil, God in his infinite compassion addresses her actions at the tree – her selfishness and disobedience – by establishing the theological virtue of Charity through sacrifice and obedience, thereby addressing the fall in the will.  Sacrifice which is at times physically painful, like childbearing. Child-rearing is sacrificial for the love of children, the next generation.  The Blessed Virgin Mary Our Mother said “yes” at the Annunciation [4]  for the good of all generations. This lesson is for both men and women in all circumstances that require sacrificial love; it is especially beneficial when it comes with the requirement of obedience, which further purifies the soul’s will for its ultimate union with God. For Jesus gave us his example by obediently following the Father’s will through his Sacrifice on the Cross. For true love is only proved by sacrifice, and sacrifice can only be done out of love. The two cannot exist separately. That is why the soldiers cast lots for Jesus’ seamless garment, woven in one piece from the top down, leaving it whole instead of tearing it. [5]

No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.  John 15:13

[4] Luke 1: 26-38
[5] John 19:23-24

The self-sacrificial love of the virtue of charity is the antidote for the weakness of will, blame game, and lack of love the man showed when he told God: The woman whom you put me here with, she gave me the fruit so I ate it. 

In God’s address to the man, he initiates his third act of merciful love for humanity by establishing the theological virtue of Faith:

To the man he said: “Because you listened to your wife and ate from the tree of which I had forbidden you to eat,

“Cursed be the ground because of you!
In toil shall you eat its yield

all the days of your life.
Thorns and thistles shall it bring forth to you,
as you eat of the plants of the field.
By the sweat of your face
shall you get bread to eat,
Until you return to the ground
from which you were taken;
For you are dirt,
and to dirt you shall return.”

Though the man showed a lack of love and control of his will in his answer to God, in his infinite wisdom God addresses his actions at the tree – his choice to believe and follow what his wife was doing despite God’s direct command and truth about the tree – by establishing the theological virtue of Faith through suffering, thereby addressing the fall in the understanding.  Suffering of mind or body can often make a person turn to God – which is comparable with union with God by the light of faith under its cover of darkness.  God often allows suffering as an attempt to catch the soul’s attention. In God’s third theological lesson, because the man and woman ate from the forbidden tree of knowledge, man is to learn to walk by faith (no knowledge) through the thorns and thistles of the cross. By the often suffering and toil of daily life and its trials, in the darkness of his understanding as to why, the soul will gain a higher and more refined kind of knowledge than he would ever get by eating fruit (being told). This verse contains both of God gifts of faith and the cross to humanity.

St. John of the Cross beautifully writes on suffering:

“By means of these trials whereinto God leads the soul and the senses, the soul gradually acquires virtues and strengths and perfection, together with bitterness, for virtue is made perfect in weakness, [6] and is wrought by the experience of sufferings.” [7]

[6] 2 Corinthians 12:9
[7] The Saint’s wisdom on trials and suffering is found in F2,22-27

There are Scripture verses that show a direct connection between suffering and gaining knowledge – an activity of the faculty of the understanding- illustrating the purification of the understanding through suffering:

He sent fire into my bones and taught me. Lamentations 1:13 [8]

Thou hast chastised me, Lord, and I was instructed and became wise. Jeremiah, 31:18 [9]

He that is not tried, what does he know and whereof has he knowledge? Ecclesiastes 34:9 [10]

For in much wisdom there is much sorrow, and he who stores up knowledge stores up grief. Ecclesiastes 1:18

A man with training gains wide knowledge; a man of experience speaks sense. Sirach 34:9

[8] “and taught me” is not in our translation but is found in the Douai translation of the Bible according to Peers Index of Scriptural quotations used by St. John. The verses used here are in F2,22

[9] “I was instructed and became wise” is not in our translation, see footnote 8.

[10] Douai translation, see footnote 8

What a grand paradox it is that walking in blindness of the understanding through the thorns and thistles of suffering enables the riches of wisdom.

St. John tells us the knowledge and wisdom of God gained by trials and tribulations in souls advanced in the spiritual life (saints) cleanse and strips the understanding of accidents and phantasies, and clears it of clouds of ignorance. [11]

[11] C36,9;12

Just as in Jesus’ example of obedience and self-sacrifice to purify the will, he gives us his lesson on suffering in his Passion for purification of the understanding.

The secret of those souls who suffer excruciating circumstances while uniting their suffering through love with Christ’s suffering on his Cross for the salvation of souls is this: hope. It is in faith through love that the soul suffers with patience and perseverance – because of hope. This is transformative suffering and is of supreme value to God and the soul. Small sufferings and the routine annoyances of daily life offered to God also have much value too,  giving them meaning and purpose while providing light, experience and strength to the soul. At their cross God is asking the soul for faith though their understanding be blinded as to why; faith and trust that he is working the greater good beneath the cover of suffering’s darkness.

Summary: The trials of the thorns and thistles of the cross in God’s third theological gift of faith and act of mercy provides the soul with experience and wisdom, which in turn purifies the faculty of the understanding for its ultimate union with God.

The serpent tricked me into it, so I ate it. So how does the thorns and thistles of the cross overcome weakness to the devil’s promptings that the woman revealed in her response to God?  It was and always is pride that causes man to fall – and again we say: “Seduced by the devil, he wanted to “be like God”, but “without God, before God, and not in accordance with God”. What is the cure the devil’s temptation to pride and sinful acts? The answer is best summed up by a saint who points out the three most important things in the spiritual life: Humility, Humility, Humility. St. Augustine said, “It was pride that changed angels into devils; it is humility that makes men into angels.” [8] And nothing fosters the powerful virtue of humility like denying oneself, picking up their cross daily, and following after Jesus. [12]

[12] Luke 9:23

Faith came to include belief in God when God ceased to have visible and audible contact with humanity; now maintaining his relationship with souls under the cover of faith’s darkness. Faith produces humility by the realization that there is someone greater than oneself in charge of things, an automatic benefit against the devil at the start of the spiritual journey.  Faith itself is protection against the devil, as was said earlier souls who journey to God by the light of faith and not by their understanding, feelings, etc., are concealed from the deceits of the devil. St. John says faith protects more than all the other virtues against the devil, who is the strongest and most cunning of all enemies. [13] Therefore, the virtue of faith and the union with God it accomplishes, the concealment from the devil and humbleness wrought by the suffering of the cross, is God’s main prevention against souls being tricked by the devil.

[13] N2,21,3

The man and the woman’s revealing answers to God and their actual actions at the tree shows that everyone needs the healing of both faith and charity.

Faith, hope, and love are meant to sustain and transform the soul throughout life, especially at each of their crosses.

It is at this moment that God is commencing the three theological virtues of hope, charity (love) and faith in man. The man and the woman prior to their fall away from God didn’t need hope or faith since they had personal relationships with him. The theological virtues were infused with their memory, will and understanding by God’s all-knowing and providential care when the man and woman were created.  They lay dormant until now – God awakens hope, charity and faith from their sleep in the man and woman with a rousing call in Genesis 3:14-18. The lessons learned through these virtues are tough and hard-earned. But the way of perfection to the kingdom of heaven is through the three spiritual faculties purged, purified, and made poor by the theological virtues that enable the soul to be filled with the divine life of God, the soul’s inheritance as a child of God through Jesus Christ. With the promise of a Redeemer, this is God’s blessed, holy remedy for humanity.

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Matthew 5:3

On Holy Thursday in the upper-room, at the feet of each of his disciples, Jesus shows us what we are to do with this self-emptying.

You can read about it at the USCCB website:

USCCB Daily Readings March 29, 2018

The USCCB has not reviewed or approved my comments on the Biblical text.

 

 

 

 

                                

 

 

 

                                        

 

                                              

                                                                      

                                        

                                                                              

                                     

                                     

                                        

                                      

                                     

                                                 

        

                                     

 

                                    

                             

                                                  

                                   

                                        

                                       

                                    

                                       

Good Friday of the Lord’s Passion – March 30, 2018

The man called his wife Eve, because she became the mother of all the living. Genesis 3:20

This is a spiritual reference our Blessed Mother, The Virgin Mary.

Adam announces Eve as the mother of all the physical living the moment after receiving the death sentence from God: “for you are dirt and dirt you shall return.” [1]

Jesus, when he was cut off from the land of the living for our salvation,  gives us the Blessed Virgin Mary for our spiritual Mother:

Jesus the new Adam from his Cross the tree of life just before he gives up his life for the life of the world, gives his mother Mary, the new Eve, to the beloved disciple who represents all of us. As Jesus’s disciples with Mary our Mother, we are “all the living” that Adam refers to. For Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life. [2]

At the Crucifixion, both Jesus and Mary wholly become humanity’s very own.

Adam’s statement in Genesis “she became the mother of all the living” is beautifully fulfilled by Jesus, his mother Mary, and John the disciple Jesus loved during the Good Friday Gospel Reading:

USCCB Daily Readings March 30, 2018

The USCCB has not reviewed or approved my comments on the Biblical text.

[1] Genesis 3:19
[2] John 14:6

Holy Saturday – March 31, 2018

For the man and his wife the LORD God made leather garments, with which he clothed them. Genesis 3:21

The leather garments God made and clothes the man and the woman with signifies their fall from their spiritual faculties into their lower sense nature; garments made from the skins of animals. Despite their fall and the significance of the leather, God upholds the dignity of their bodies by clothing them in appropriate garments before moving them out of the garden. God is sending a clear message about the dignity of the human body, which extends to the whole person. Despite a person’s apparent wholeness or apparent shortcomings, their imperfections and failings of both mind and body, their dignity founded upon the image and likeness of God must always be upheld in all ways and circumstances because it is an intrinsic value that is never lost.

By the very act of God clothing the naked man and woman with his own holy hands with garments made personally by him, God sanctifies the human body while again bestowing his mercy. This sanctification of the human body is brought to fullness by God himself incarnating in human flesh in the person of Jesus Christ, who exemplifies the soul’s goal of its sensual part being put aright: purified and conformed to its perfected spiritual part; a final and everlasting spirit and sense Red Sea annihilation of the soul’s enemies: the world, the flesh and the devil. [1]  Always, the model is Christ, who is “a prelude of the new creation.” [2]

[1] St. John of the Cross writes on the three enemies of the soul in: Cautions #3
[2] CCC 1224

God clothing the man and the woman in the leather garments upon their departure from the garden is the ultimate expression of the old saying: God doesn’t close one door without opening another. For by this very holy and personal clothing in garments only he can make, God signals the soul’s fourth sacramental pillar of salvation, and the door to the other three sacramental pillars and to his Church: the Holy Sacrament of Baptism.

As the man and woman are clothed by God and ushered into the wilderness, the voice of a man is heard in the far distance. A heraldic man similarly clothed in skins of animals standing in the Jordan River… his voice as yet small, though audible in God’s inexpressible, gratuitous clothing of the man and woman here – and later allowing himself the same in the Jordan River – crying out through the ages of salvation history: Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight his paths

THE BOOK OF GENESIS…Salvation…THE BOOK OF EXODUS …FAITHCovenant…THE BOOK OF LEVITICUS…Holiness…THE BOOK OF NUMBERS…Journey…THE BOOK OF DEUTERONOMY…Moses…THE BOOK OF JOSHUA…The Promised Land…THE BOOK OF JUDGES…Law…THE BOOK OF RUTH…Universality…THE BOOKS OF SAMUEL…David…THE BOOKS OF KINGS…Solomon…Elijah…Exile…THE BOOK OF NEHEMIAH…Laity…THE BOOK OF TOBIT…Hymn of Praise…THE BOOK OF JUDITH…Divine Providence…THE BOOK OF ESTHER…Deliverance…THE FIRST BOOK OF MACCABEES…Chosen People…THE SECOND BOOK OF MACCABEES…Resurrection of the Just…Intercession of the Saints in Heaven… Prayers for the Dead…THE BOOK OF JOB…Transformative Suffering…THE BOOK OF PSALMS…Praise…Thanksgiving…Lament…THE BOOK OF PROVERBS… Sapiential…THE BOOK OF ECCLESIASTES…Vanity of Vanities…THE SONG OF SONGS…Lover and Beloved…THE BOOK OF WISDOM…The Fear of the Lord…THE BOOK OF SIRACH…Wisdom…THE BOOK OF ISAIAH…A Voice Cries Out…Suffering Servant…THE BOOK OF JEREMIAH…New Covenant…THE BOOK OF LAMENTATIONS…HOPE…THE BOOK OF BARUCH…Jerusalem…THE BOOK OF EZEKIEL…Divine Majesty…Restoration…THE BOOK OF DANIEL…Son of Man…THE BOOK OF HOSEA…Reconciliation…THE BOOK OF JOEL…Pentecost…THE BOOK OF AMOS…Divine Judgement…THE BOOK OF OBADIAH…The Kingdom is the Lord’s…THE BOOK OF JONAH…The Sign…THE BOOK OF MICAH…Bethlehem…THE BOOK OF NAHUM…Judgement…THE BOOK OF HABAKKUK…The just live by their faith…THE BOOK OF ZEPHANIAH…The Day of the Lord…THE BOOK OF HAGGAI…The Temple…THE BOOK OF ZECHARIAH…Prince of Peace…THE BOOK OF MALACHI…The Forerunner…LOVE… 

The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ [the Son of God]. Mark 1:1

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For all of you who have been baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.[4]  The Catechumens at the Easter Vigil are clothed in the white robes of purity after their personal sins as well as the stain of original sin are washed away by Baptism.

[4] Galatians 3:37

“Incorporated into Christ by Baptism, that person in configured to Christ. Baptism seals the Christian with an indelible spiritual mark (character) on his soul of his belonging to Christ.  No sin can erase this mark, even if sin prevents Baptism from bearing the fruits of salvation (83). Given once for all, Baptism cannot be repeated.” [5]

“Through Baptism we are freed of sin and reborn as sons of God; we become members of Christ, are incorporated into the Church and made sharers in her mission.” [6]

[5] CCC 1272 with footnote 83: Cf. Rom 8:29; Council of Trent (1547): DS 1609-1619.
[6] CCC 1213

In these opening chapters of Holy Scripture, God the Father is spoken of in the prefigurement of the Sacrament of Baptism, providentially in the Fall of Man verses, clothing the man and woman with parental love and care. We see elements of God restoring dignity with clothing in the gospel of prodigal son returned to sonship with the elated father, who signals this by clothing him in the finest robe, a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. This time, a fattened calf is used to celebrate the son’s return to life with a feast, instead of making leather garments for exile. Luke 15: 22-24.

 

God the Son is spoken of in the foreshadowing of the Sacrament of the Eucharistic Feast, in the plants that bear seed and fruit trees that bear fruit with seed in it on the third day of creation in Genesis 1:11.

 

God the Holy Spirit is spoken of in his Seven Gifts woven throughout Genesis 1 in  the seven times use of God saw how good it was – just as they should be woven into the very fabric of the soul – heralding the Sacrament of Confirmation.

music4life /

Men and Women bring their lives to complete this holy quartet in the Sacrament of Matrimony, as collaborators with God creating life and raising the next generation of souls. The Sacrament of Matrimony is spoken of by God in the Protoevangelium, also called the first gospel. [7]

[7] In Genesis 3:14-19, God uses the words “wife” and “husband” .

All four of these sacramental pillars of the soul are components of its salvation, as each was summarized earlier. The Sacrament of Reconciliation is pre-supposed in the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist, as is the Sacrament of Holy Orders.

“Seated at the right hand of the Father” and pouring out the Holy Spirit on his body which is the Church, Christ now acts through the sacraments he instituted to communicate his grace.” CCC 1084

USCCB Daily Readings March 31, 2018

The USCCB has not reviewed or approved my comments on the Biblical text.

Easter Sunday – The Resurrection of the Lord – April 1, 2018

Today is the fruition of Our Lord crushing the head of the serpent on Good Friday- the breaking of the bonds of sin, exile, and death…

Then the LORD God said: “See! The man has become like one of us, knowing what is good and what is bad! Therefore, he must not be allowed to put out his hand to take fruit from the tree of life also, and thus eat of it and live forever.” The LORD God therefore banished him from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from which he had been taken. When he expelled the man, he settled him east of the garden of Eden; and he stationed the cherubim and the fiery revolving sword, to guard the way to the tree of life.  Genesis 3: 22-24

Man should know what God knows is good and what is bad. It is the “knowing” for themselves as gods, without God, and before God that bars man from eternal life. Therefore, a guard is placed over the tree of life with the cherubim and the fiery revolving sword, so they will not put out their hand to take from it and live forever.

For God’s own hands he will have firmly nailed to a tree for man’s sake, to refashion their warped nature into God’s image. [1]

[1] From an ancient homily on Holy Saturday Office of Readings

The next time we see the cherubim and the fiery revolving sword, they appear in Exodus 14: 19-20 as the angel and the fiery cloud (of faith); this time gathering Israel upon setting out from the bondage of Egypt, guarding them from Pharaoh and his chariots at the Red Sea, and guiding them onward toward the Promised Land.

Man is destined to till the ground from which he had been taken to nourish his physical body. Spiritually too, man is destined to till the soil of his own soul: to have dominion over the birds of the air, the fish of the sea, and all the creatures on the earth. For God will not grant the soul eternal life without co-operation.

Jesus Christ, Son of David, King of the ages, made his Cross the tree of life. The paradise of the Garden of Eden is our souls, where God the Father, and the Son and the Holy Spirit is in the center, replacing the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. For God is the author of all knowledge, the fountain of infinite love and the fulfillment of what we truly hope for. It is there we cultivate our virtues that keep out the weeds of Satan. And it is there we find ourselves, like Mary Magdalene on Easter morning, in the garden looking for Jesus.

The USCCB has not reviewed or approved my comments on the Biblical text.

USCCB Daily Readings April 1, 2018

He is Risen! Alleluia! Alleluia!