Summary: Mary's offspring, Jesus Christ, Son of God and her son, would defeat Satan and all the evil spirits and restore those who believe in Him to our original state in the image of God.
Monday after Pentecost
If the story weren’t of the greatest tragedy in human history, this reading from the early chapter of Genesis would almost be a French farce. We see just before these verses the virgin Eve (she is so seen by the Church Fathers) succumbing to the seductive voice of a serpent, listening to his lies about God. She and Adam are already made in the image and likeness of God, but the serpent tells her that if she disobeys the one negative command of her Maker, she’ll be “like God.” So she eats the fruit. Now I ask with Scott Hahn, “where was Adam when all this was going on? Wasn’t he supposed to support and defend his wife?” Anyway, he comes along and listens to the serpent’s lies repeated by his gorgeous wife, and he disobeys, too. The story picks up today.
The Lord knows where they are, and what they have done. His question, “where are you?” is designed to see if his human creatures have any idea what they have just given up, what they have just done. So Adam spills out everything except the sin they have committed. God gets right to the point–you idiots did the only thing I told you not to do. And Adam, instead of taking responsibility for his stupidity and disobedience, blames Eve. God asks her the simple question, the logical one, “why?” It’s like He says, “I made you in my image and likeness; why did you think that doing what I told you not to do would make you like me? You already were like me!” So Eve, acting like some ten-year-old who just stole a peach from the neighbor’s tree, blamed the only other speaking character left–the serpent. In other words, she says “the devil made me do it.”
The only dialog we have here is God’s banishment of the serpent, because the Church is trying on this feast to emphasize the eternal enmity between the Evil One and the Woman. The enmity in the story is between the Father of Lies and Eve, but the Church Fathers early on saw the real woman being prophesied here as the virgin of Nazareth, the Galilean hero named Mary. Her offspring, Jesus Christ, Son of God and son of Mary, would defeat Satan and all the evil spirits and restore those who believe in Him to our original state in the image of God. How and when is identified by the evangelist, John. Jesus is shown hanging on the Roman’s favorite execution instrument, a cross. His mother and John and two other women are also there. Jesus gives His mother, whom He identifies as the Woman prophesied by Moses, into the care of John and the rest of His Church. He then begins the final act in this most sacred Liturgy. He calls for what Hahn calls “the fourth cup.” He is about to complete the Passover, the true Passover for all human beings who will believe. He takes a drink from the sponge and declares that the Passover is complete. He hands over His Spirit, the Spirit we celebrated yesterday at Pentecost, the Holy Spirit that would animate the Church. After death there is one more divine gift. The soldier unwittingly makes it happen. He pierces Jesus’s heart and His precious blood and water come out. The Fathers always shared the hidden meaning, that these symbolized the baptism and Eucharistic banquet that Jesus commanded of all Christians.
So what does all this mean to us? First, we have a responsibility, as Mary prophesied before Jesus was born, to call her “blessed.” We should meditate on her life and her sorrow and her triumph in the Resurrection of her Son, Jesus. We should ponder in our hearts the Gospel, as she did. We should always pray with the Church, as she did in the upper room. Second, we should always celebrate with the Church when men and women and children come into relationship with Jesus and the Church, as in baptism. We should thank God for our own relationship with Jesus in the Church. And we should work to bring more of our fellow humans into that relationship that means eternal life.