The Fall is likely the heading our home Bible gives for Genesis 2 & 3, this story from our First Reading (March 9, 2014) about Adam and Eve’s temptation and removal from the Garden of Eden. Sometimes The Fall is also titled Original Sin, as Christians say this story represents in a nutshell our entire human condition. That this story explains the way things just… ARE. That we are fundamentally disobedient. It’s even in our baptism liturgy, “We are born children of a fallen humanity.”
It’s a doctrine we Christians ascribe to, but more than that, it’s a truth we live. We see evidence every day that we are weak, and worried; that we are way too able to mess things up when we are left on our own.
Temptation is not just a one-time thing, but a life-long curse. You can be tempted when you’re already in paradise, like Adam & Eve. And you can be tempted in the wilderness, surrounded by nothing, like Jesus was. (There are other Bible stories, too, where the devil tries to mock and question and bring despair.)
All of them point to the same truth. You can be tempted when you’re happy. You can be tempted when you’re miserable. You can be tempted when you’re with others, and you can be tempted while alone. You can be tempted anywhere, any time, with or without anyone.
And…there’s only one reason why you are tempted.
Because you are human.
(You are vulnerable.)
Original sin provides us two truths, both of which are hard to accept.
1. When we succeed, it’s not necessarily because we are God’s special snowflake.
2. And when we fall, God can lift again. Every time.
The biggest temptation we face, then, is NOT when we misjudge our own ability, making it too big (OR to small), but when we cast aside God’s ability.
Walking on the Edge. Kayapo People of Brazil. Photo from National Geographic, 2014.
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