OBEDIENCE: The Archetypal Sin

During one of my Lectio Divina sessions (Phil 2:5), I thought of what the obedience of the Son must be to God the Father to come earth and make reparation for the sin of Adam and Eve. He who takes away the sins of the world indeed has mercy on us. But there is more to obedience than meets the eye. First of all, we do not think of obedience as the world sees it, influenced by pseudo psychological pragmatism and relativism.


The spiritual universe is God’s playground and if we want to use it, we must follow God’s rules. The biggest rule has to do with the relationship of Adam and Eve to God in the Garden of Eden. In the Genesis story. there is a tree of the knowledge of good and evil. God says, don’t eat of it.  The Devil tempts Eve to eat of it because if she and Adam eat its fruit, they will be God. This archetypal story of God and Humanity is the Original Sin, the one which Jesus had to become one of us to reconcile with the Father.  If you look around the world today, you will see this sin as the most prevalent and pernicious one we commit. The Wiley One still pulls the wool over the eyes of most of us and even tempts us as individuals to become god.  All sin is the sin of Adam and Eve at its core. Sin, remember, means the archer aims at the target but misses the bullseye, or even the target itself. God give us the target. This Genesis story has disobedience to God and its consequences at the heart of what it means to be human. There is also another dimension to obedience or the lack of it, and that is humility. All told, I count three big events or principles in Genesis:

God is God and you are not.-– God is not human but divine. Jesus Christ is both human and divine. We are adopted sons and daughters of the Father, each and every human. Some realize this and move forward in resonance with their human nature Forever. Some do not and end up in dissonance with their human nature Forever. Each person has a choice of placing God as their center or placing themselves there. If you place yourself at the center of reality, you are a god. The First Command Moses received on Sinai was to war that God is God and we are not. This sin contains every sin that we commit against God.  The Kingdom of Heaven on earth is God’s playground and you must follow His rules. There is only one rule, according to our Master, to love one another as Christ loved us.  All the Creeds, all the Sacraments, all the contemplations with Liturgy of the Hours and Lectio Divina all flow from the Christ principle. God is love and our purpose in life is to love God with all our hearts. all our minds, and all our strength and our neighbor as yourself. (Deuteronomy 6 and Matthew 22:37). It is the center of both our Jewish heritage and the fulfillment with the resurrection of Christ.

If you want to be God, when God told you not to, this is disobedience. At the heart of what it means to be human, there are some concepts that are prominent.  Chief among them is that God is the creator of all that is. What God made is good, not evil. God gave Adam and Eve limits but they disobeyed Him. Sin came into the world through one man (Romans 5:12-21) and we inherit the effects of that Original Sin. That is why, although we are good, we have been wounded and are prone to evil. We must make up in us that which our nature does not provide. That is why Christ, Son of God, had to die on the cross (Philippians 2: 5-12). It is the ultimate sign of contradiction and the perfect gift of obedience of a human (Jesus) to the Father in reparation for the sin of Adam and Eve.  The problem comes when Christ entrusts his mission to the Apostles. By themselves, they cower in the upper room, afraid of the Jews and of being martyred.  At Pentecost, the Holy Spirit came upon them in tongues of fire and the Church was born. It is still being born today, the New Jerusalem, the Kingdom of Heaven in time and space, the Mystical Body of Christ, the Church Universal (church triumphant in heaven, the church militant on earth, church purgative awaiting the last judgment).

Pride or the lack of humility is at the core of disobedience. You can’t have disobedience without having a lack of humility or pride. Pride means you think you are better than anyone, including God. Humility recognized who you are and who God is. St. Benedict in Chapter 7 of his Rule speaks of the steps to gain humility. As a Lay Cistercian, humility and obedience to God’s will through my visible authority (Abbot or Abbess) but also with the guidance of the Holy Spirit in the community, keeps me grounded in moving from self to God. Pride is one of the sins that opens up the possibility of me thinking that I am God, that no one can tell me what to do with my body, that love can exist without God, that I don’t need to be a part of the living community of the Body of Christ. I am Solus Sola, my own church, the individual alone can define what God is. God is who I say it is. No one can tell me what to believe. Things are true because I believe them not because I believe them because they are true. The modern heresy after Pentecost is: God is who I say it is and no one has the right to tell me anything about God except me. Modern idolatry at work, offering incense to the gods (you) on sacrificing on your own altar with unclean gifts (lack of obedience, lack of humility and lack of love).

Next time, we will talk about how this outcome of the Resurrection plays out in each age.

That in all things, may God be glorified.  –St. Benedict


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