Our Lenten Journey in the Old Testament

Taken from Catholic Exchange
by Dr. Mark Giszczak

Our Lenten Journey in the Old Testament

First Sunday of Lent

First Reading: Genesis 2:7-9; 3:1-7


Here at the beginning of Lent, the Church confronts us with the problem of sin. The drama of humanity’s fall is retold in this Sunday’s reading from Genesis 3.

Man Made from Mud

First, the Lectionary sets the stage by beginning with a few verses from Genesis 2 that describe Adam’s creation from dirt. After having being reminded on Ash Wednesday that “you are dust and to dust you shall return,” this part of the reading drives the message home: God made us from mud. In fact, he made the trees and plants from mud too. It is easy for us to think much of ourselves, to consider ourselves to be a “big deal,” but our origin from dirt reminds us to think twice before having too high an opinion of ourselves.

The “One Rule” of the Garden of Eden

After Adam’s creation, we are told about the Garden of Eden—a place full of delights in which God places two significant trees: the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, and the Tree of Life. The Lectionary skips over much of Genesis 2, where we hear God’s command to Adam not to eat of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. (This skipped section also tells of Adam’s role in taking care of the Garden and the special creation of Eve.) God commands him “but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall die” (Gen 2:17 RSV). Adam and Eve are free to enjoy the Garden, and God gives them only one rule to follow.

Sometimes people object to the “one rule” asking why God would even give Adam and Eve an opportunity to sin. Why not just remove the Tree completely? The trouble is the nature of human freedom. We are not robots who can be programmed to behave in a certain way. Robots can do lots of tasks, but ultimately, they cannot love. Love is impossible without freedom. God wanted to create beings able to love him, so he had to grant them freedom not to love him, including opportunities to express that non-love. The “one rule” he prescribes offers Adam and Eve a stark choice—to love God by obeying him or to reject God by breaking his one rule. Sadly, they choose to reject God.

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