I was reminded of this meditation while listening to a scripture passage from Genesis 3 this past week at mass. Verse 8 says that man and woman, “heard the sound of God moving about in the garden at the breezy time of the day.” Imagine that, God strolling through the garden, simply enjoying creation. Perhaps God was looking for man and woman, but they, “hid themselves from the Lord God among the trees of the garden.” Why? Because they did exactly what God forbade them to do and they were ashamed. Then, God expelled them from the garden.
As I read over this scripture verse, trying to understand why God would banish these beloved children from this place of wonder and awe, I realized that the whole time God questioned the man and woman, neither of them showed contrition for their actions. Instead they played the blame game. “The woman…she gave me the fruit from the tree…so I ate it.” “The serpent tricked me into it, and so I ate it.” What if man would have said, “Lord, I am sorry that I ignored your command and gave into the temptation.” Or if the woman acknowledged, “I should have realized that I was being tricked, that I should have listened to you.” What if each of them would have said, “Oh God, will you forgive us and help us to start over?”
Biblical scholarship teaches us that these stories were written to help people understand their world and their relationship with God. Human behaviors and tendencies were projected onto God. Human parents would punish their children for disobedience; the author of Genesis understood this response. As I look at my own relationship with God, it is the times that I justify my wrongdoing, when I blame others for “leading me into temptation” that I feel most distant from God and the joy of God’s love. It is during these times that I feel cut off from God’s love, not because God withholds love from me but that I have turned away from God’s light and merciful love.
In the parable of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15:11-32) Jesus illuminates another face of God a merciful, God who wants more than anything, the return of the prodigal. Just as in the parable, when I acknowledge that I have sinned, and turn back to God, I find a Forgiving Father running toward me (v.20), a loving God who has been waiting for my return. God desires our reunification more than we do and forgives us even before we ask for it. This knowledge is almost too much for me to bear and fills me with unspeakable joy. I am humbled before such generosity.
Lord God, Thank you for the gifts that you give to us, especially for the gift of your mercy. Help us to realize when we have turned away from your light. Remind us that you want nothing more than to welcome us back and restore us to right relationship with you and those whom we may have hurt. Thank you for the peace and joy that comes from reconciliation. Amen