Lectionary Reflection for the Second Sunday after Pentecost

This excerpt comes from Genesis (BTCB) by R. R. Reno, commenting on Genesis 3:8-15:

God creates for a purpose, and when the original choices of the man and woman go against his purpose, God does not wash his hands of creation. “They heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden” (3:8).

He speaks to the man and woman: “I will question you, and you shall declare to me” ( Job 38:3). Both respond, “I ate” (Gen. 3:12–13). Now the initiative returns to God, and he fulfills their choices. The man and woman chose sentient life, the realm of physical pleasures and the project of natural survival. Their punishment is to have what they have chosen.

As Chrysostom says, imagining God speaking directly to the man and woman, “Lo, you have become what you expected—or rather, not what you expected but what you deserved to become” (Homilies on Genesis 18.6 in FC 82.7). Divine justice is not only incorruptible and beneficent (“the Lord reproves him whom he loves”; Prov. 3:12); it is also fitting. According to Augustine, “The retribution for disobedience is simply disobedience itself. For man’s wretchedness is nothing but his own disobedience to himself ” (City of God 14.15, quoted from Bettenson 1972: 575).

We try to live according to Satan’s lie, as if the material world were sufficient for life. But just as the restless loneliness that Adam experienced extends beyond the bodily union of man and woman, so also do we twist and turn in order to extract more than survival from our innerworldly projects. We tie ourselves into knots of self-contradiction in our efforts to use finite goods to satisfy our infinite longing.

©2010 by R. R. Reno. Published by Brazos Press. Unauthorized use of this material without express written permission is strictly prohibited.