November 15, 2007 - Who Told You That You Were Naked?
The Serpent (the Devil) said to the woman: “You certainly will not die, and as soon as you eat of it your eyes will be open and you will be like God, That you will know good and bad.”(Gen. 3)
“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’.” (Gen. 3, 2)
What does the devil say? “You certainly will not die!” They bought the lie from Satan. It is not our job to determine what is right and wrong, but the devil, the father of lies, just like in the garden tells us, “If you do this you get to determine what is right and wrong.” It doesnít work this way. God doesnít ask us what is right and wrong.
“The woman saw that the tree was good for food, pleasing to the eyes, and desirable for gaining wisdom.” (Gen. 3, 6)
Does this sound familiar to us? Almost every sin looks good and pleasing and desirable. That is why we do it.
Sin means to miss the mark
Sin has something good in it. Itís our nature to be attracted towards good. Sex is good, right? But when we do it out of Godís law we are missing the mark. Drugs feel good, right? But that same drug that you abuse is being used in hospitals as a cure for some kind of disease. There is something good in all sin and pleasurable. If this werenít true we wouldnít do it. Masturbation feels good, right? It doesnít hurt anyone. But, you are still missing the mark. If God says no to this sin, then we must trust Godís wisdom. I promise you this. If you do this sin you will not truly be charitable to others. It makes you ugly and molds you into darkness.
The sin that caused death to Adam and Eve and all of us.
Eve had full knowledge, because God told her she would die if she ate from this tree. The Lord then asked the woman, “Why did you do such a thing?” The woman answered, “The serpent (the devil) tricked me into it, so I ate it.” (Gen. 3, 13)
The Lord speaks to the Woman:
“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.” (Gen. 3, 16)
The Lord speaks to the Man:
“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 dirt you shall return.” (Gen. 3, 19)
Happiness in the Garden ended for Adam and Eve. Now, they will experience death and separation from God. This is what the Catholic Church calls original sin - separation from God, and death to all of us, descendants of Adam and Eve.
This sin of wanting to determine what is right and wrong is the sin of all of us.
Now, do you see the original sin involved here? Itís that I become a god now. I determine what is right and wrong. I determine that itís okay to miss Mass on Sunday. I determine that sex outside of marriage is okay. I determine that getting drunk is not wrong. It relaxes me. I determine that my marriage is falling apart and that I need a new partner. After all, weíre not compatible in bed anymore. I determine if my teenage daughter should have an abortion, or itís her choice. After all, itís her body. I determine that homosexual marriage is okay. After all, weíre in love and God is a God of love.
It doesnít matter what you determine. God said itís a sin and so, therefore, it is.
God had to fulfill His justice.
If God said you will die if you take from the tree, then you will die. God would have to fulfill His justice. He doesnít lie.
Everything looks so good and pleasing to me.
God has given us so many wonderful resources. Plants and animals to eat and comfort us, friends and family, air to breathe, water to drink, shelter from the storm and rules to go by to govern our resources fairly so no one is deprived of these resources. We all can live in harmony together in sharing and caring for one another. This all sounds good, doesnít it, except for the rules.
Without Godís rules to govern the planet, the planet becomes sick and we ask God, why? Why all the disease? Why all the divorce? Why all the crime? Why all the immorality? Why all the hunger? Why all the debt? Why all the substance abuse? Why, why, why? Yet we know the answer. When you throw away God and His laws and you no longer listen to His church (the Roman Catholic Church), right becomes wrong and wrong becomes right. Sin is all around you.
Adam and Eve felt guilt for the first time.
They ate from the tree and their eyes were opened, and they realized that they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made loin clothes for themselves. They hid from God.
The Lord God then 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?” (Gen. 3)
Adam and Eve made the determination that nakedness was bad, not God. They were now going to determine what is good and bad.
The Lord makes a promise to Satan that all is not lost for Adam and Eve and their descendants.
“I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; [Mary], He [Jesus] will strike at your head, while you strike at His heel.” (Gen. 3, 15)
God fulfilled His promise through Jesus and His mother. God became man in order to unite us once again with our Father in heaven through the one great sacrifice of the cross. United in His Son we become sons and daughters of the Most High. Through Baptism, we are once again united with God and original sin (separation) is no more. We are made as white as snow.
Baptism is commanded by Christ: Matt 28, 19; John 16, 16; John 3, 5; Acts 2, 38. 41; Acts 8, 12.38; 9, 18; 10, 48; 16, 15 etc.
Through Maryís obedience we experience life (Jesus) again, as through Eveís disobedience we experienced death. Mary and Jesus = new Adam and Eve. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him might not perish but might have eternal life.” (John 3, 16)
“For just as through the disobedience of one person the many were made sinners, so through the obedience of one (Jesus) the many were made righteous.” (ROM. 5, 18)
“Are you unaware that we who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? We were indeed buried with Him through Baptism into death, so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we, too, might live in newness of life.” (ROM. 6, 3-4)
God fulfilled His justice by becoming one of us, but what if we fall from our baptismal promise?
Christ leaves us a church and a promise that the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. This church is Jesus, Himself, His mystical body. He would never leave us as orphans.
“And so I say to you, you are Peter and upon this rock I will build My church, and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven. Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you lose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” (Matt. 16, 18)
What if I were to take my car keys and give them to you and tell you; these keys are yours to do whatever you want with them. Canít you let anybody drive this car, or tell anybody you want to get out of this car? Donít you have the keys? You have been given all authority by the owner. Jesus Christ gave all authority to Peter as head of his church on earth and He says to Peter and his church, whomever you let in I will let in, and whomever you keep out, I will keep out.
Is this not enough proof to put faith in His church (the Roman Catholic Church)? Not faith in its members, but faith in its teachings on morals and faith.
When we fail from our Baptismal promises we have a place to turn to reconcile with God.
He breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained.” (John 20, 21)
The church has the power of the keys, why He did this, I donít know. But He did. Priests have the power through and only through the ministerial priesthood to forgive sins, acting in and through the person of Jesus Christ.
Can God forgive sins and cure people outside of the Confessional?
Of course He can. Look at sin as a cancer. If your loved one has cancer, whatís the first thing they ask you to do for them? Pray. They want a healing from God. Can God heal them? Yes, but sometimes He lets the doctors do the healing and His hand is right there working with the doctor. God chose this doctor. God chose to heal your loved one through the doctorís hands. Letís say your car breaks down and this car is your livelihood, so you pray to God for a miracle to fix this car. Joe, your neighbor, happens to see your trouble, so Joe intervenes, covers the cost of the repairs, and the next day youíre back at work.
Now, could God have miraculously fixed your car without Joeís help? Of course He could, but He used Joe as an instrument of His power to help you. Now, was Joe taking Godís place? No, he is only an instrument. Sin is a terrible disease and the priest is a doctor of your soul. The priest removes the cancer (sin) that is killing you. Sometimes the cancer (sin) comes back or is still lingering in our bodies, but through frequent visits to the priest, all can be washed clean. Just as the doctor may prescribe exercise, frequent checkups, help from friends and family to check up on you to make sure you are following your prescribed treatments, so, goes it with the priest. He may prescribe exercise such as daily Bible reading, the Rosary, daily Mass and certain devotionals as a penance. He may ask you to call on friends and family such as intercessory prayer from the Saints in heaven, or to call on our heavenly Mother for guidance. He may ask you to visit him frequently in the confessional just to keep you always aware that this sickness can occur again and again.
When we are born, the only thing Jesus wants is to get us home to heaven. So, Jesus puts us on His shoulder, just like the image of the good shepherd, and He starts to carry us through life. But, what do we do? We kick and fight and we tell Him to put us down.
Iím going to do it my way through life.
Every time I sin, Iím kicking His back, and punching His head and telling Him, “Put me down. I donít want this relationship with you.”
What is sin?
It is saying no to Jesus. Not your way, but my way. Imagine being a married man. Youíre out with your buddies, a beautiful girl begins to hit on you, your hormones are out of control, you jump into your car to take her to a motel, but on the way, there you see Jesus in your rearview mirror and He says, “Choose Me.” But, you tell him no. You go inside and do your thing with her. When you return to the car to go home, you look in the mirror again and Our Lord is crying and He disappears. Our Lord wants a relationship with you and now you have chosen to split it. How many of you have been cheated on by a spouse or a boyfriend or girlfriend? It hurts, doesnít it?
Well, we are in a relationship with Jesus Christ, the one who died for us, the one who loves us more than anyone or anything. So, when you go to Confession, itís not just naming all your sins, itís truly telling Jesus, Iím sorry, please forgive me. Please put me back on your shoulders and carry me through life again. I need you Jesus. Jesus, I trust in you. Be first place in my life again.
The beautiful words of Absolution
God, the Father of Mercies, through the death and the resurrection of His son has reconciled the world to Himself and sent the Holy Spirit among us for the forgiveness of sins; through the ministry of the church may God give you pardon and peace, and I absolve you from your sins in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.
The words of Absolution express the essential elements of this sacrament: the Father of mercies is the source of all forgiveness. He brings reconciliation to sinners by the effect of His sonís life, death and resurrection and by the gifts of the Holy Spirit through the prayer and ministry of the Church.
The rule of the penitent in the Confessional is to endure all things willingly, be contrite of heart, confess with the lips, and practice complete humility.) (CCC 1450)
A good Act of Contrition
To be truly sorry for oneís sin and to truly detest all sin with a good resolution to sin no more - when this is done from a love of God, a love above all else, this is called a perfect contrition.
Many sins wrong our neighbor
We must do whatever we can to repair the harm we have done (e.g., return stolen goods, if we slander or gossip about someone we must restore their reputation, pay compensation for injuries). Sin not only weakens the sinner, as well as his relationship with God and neighbor. Absolution takes away sin, but it does not fix all the problems sin has caused. The sinner must recover his full spiritual health by doing something more to make amends for the sin: He must make satisfaction and this is called penance.
The priestís penance must take into account the penitentís personal situation and must seek his spiritual good. It must relate somehow or another as far as possible with the gravity and nature of the sins committed. It can consist of prayer, an offering, works of mercy, service of neighbor, self-denial sacrifices and the acceptance of oneís own cross. All penances should help us unite totally to Christ, who alone takes our sins.
In converting to Christ through penance and faith, the sinner passed from death to life and “does not come into judgment.” (CCC 1470)
The sinner is reconciled with his brother from when he has in some way offended and wounded.
Sin breaks our communion with our fellowman and breaks our communion with the church which suffers when one of its members have fallen away. A good shepherd is always looking for the one lost sheep and is never satisfied until he finds it.
For it is now, in this life, that we are offered the choice between life and death.
It is only through the road of conversion that we can enter the kingdom, from which one is excluded by grave sin.
Now the works of the flesh are obvious: immorality, impurity, licentiousness, idolatry, sorcery, hatreds, rivalry, jealousy, outbursts of fury, acts of selfishness, dissensions, factions, occasions of envy, drinking bouts, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. (Gal. 5, 19-22)
For it is now, in this life, that we are offered the choice between life and death. In the Confessional, the sinner places himself before the merciful judgment of God. In a certain way, this judgment anticipates the end judgment that we all face at the end of our lives. But, the judgment we face now, the Confessional, is an ocean of mercy. But, how will you at death stand before the just judge when all you have is your sins as your defense?
God predestines no one to go to hell
For this to happen, one must willfully turn away from God (a mortal sin) is necessary, and persistence in it until the end. (CCC 1037)
One must refuse to repent of a mortal sin. On judgment day, in the presence of Christ, who is truth itself, the truth of your relationship with God will be laid bare; all that you have done and have failed to do shall be brought into full light.
To die in mortal sin without repenting and accepting Godís merciful love, means remaining separated from Him forever by our own free choice. This state of definitive self-exclusion from communion with God and the blessed is called, “Hell.” (CCC 1033)
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