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Posts Tagged ‘Genesis’

Before I begin, I should make it clear that Easter begins, rather than ends, on Easter Sunday — despite what retailers might have us believe (no offense intended to people in retail).

Gnosticism

There is an ancient religious-philosophical system known as gnosticism.  In a nutshell, gnosticism espouses the following general principles:

1. Matter is evil.  The material world, including our physical bodies, is created and ruled by a demon called the Demiurge.

2. Gnosis (Greek for “knowledge”).  Certain people — a very select few — are selected to be “saved” by becoming spiritual through a hidden, infused knowledge.  When they die, their true inner selvestheir spiritual souls — will break free from the prison of their physical bodies, and they will fly away to a realm of pure spirit.

ManicheansA related school of thought was Manichaeism, which flourished for a little while in the Near East during the early A.D. period.  St. Augustine of Hippo was a member of this school of thought for a little while, before converting to Christianity.

In his great work “Confessions,” Augustine shares an important insight that he gained after his conversion:

(. . .) and with a sounder judgement I held that the higher (I presume that he meant spiritual) things are indeed better than the lower, but that all things together are better than the higher ones alone (“Confessions,” VII:xiv — John K. Ryan translation from Image Books)

What was it about Judeo-Christian revelation that would have led him to that insight?  Well, for one thing, there is the Genesis creation account, which speaks of how God created the material world in all its splendor, climaxing in the creation of mankind…body and soul.

God looked at everything he had made, and he found it very good. (Gen. 1:31)

ResurrectionBut with the Resurrection of Christ, the Son of God, God in the flesh, this point is super-eminently reaffirmed.

With the Resurrection, any form of Gnostic dualism is definitively refuted.

With the Resurrection, God reaffirms the goodness of His creation, and especially of humankind.

With the Resurrection, the value of the human body as part of a person’s identity is radically reaffirmed.

With the Resurrection, the material world (to which the body is necessarily related) is not only– and not to be redundant — reaffirmed in its goodness, but, as Fr. Robert Barron says, “rais(ed) (…) up to a higher pitch.”*

Indeed, the Resurrection is the wellspring of renewal — not just for humanity but for all of creation, created good but damaged by sin.  And in Christ, God has seen fit to make us leaders in this great renewal.

That doesn’t mean that we will be able to build a perfect world here on earth, of course.  But as we prepare for that Final Day when Christ ushers in a new heavens and a new earth (Rev. 21:1), we must strive to spread the truly good and liberating news of the Divine Love and its definitive victory in all we say and do, bringing it to bear upon our everyday affairs and upon the things of this world.

Kind of makes Easter seem more exciting than images of bonnets and baskets, doesn’t it?

Images from Wikipedia

http://www.lentreflections.com/why-easter-matters/

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Mother MaryFor part 2, click here: https://intothedance.wordpress.com/2013/05/28/the-praises-of-mary-the-new-eve-part-2/

We left off with a comparison of Genesis 1 and John 1, demonstrating that the latter shows Jesus Christ to be the New Adam by following the creation-based trajectory of the former.  In John 2, we see a corresponding revelation of Mary, the Mother of Jesus, as the New Eve.

Here is how the Bible recounts Adam’s discovery of Eve on the “Seventh Day,” after all of creation had been completed:

So the LORD God cast a deep sleep on the man, and while he was asleep, he took out one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. The LORD God then built up into a woman the rib that he had taken from the man. When he brought her to the man, the man said: “This one, at last, is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; This one shall be called ‘woman,’ for out of ‘her man’ this one has been taken.” That is why a man leaves his father and mother and clings to his wife, and the two of them become one body. (Genesis 2: 21-24)

Before we go any further, let me stress that this is not any indication of inferiority or merely derivative dignity on the part of women.  For the ancient Hebrews, bones represented the whole person.  And so what these verses truly imply — nay, profess — is equality and mutuality between the sexes.

Anyway, let’s move on to John 2:

On the third day there was a wedding in Cana in Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. Jesus and his disciples were also invited to the wedding. When the wine ran short, the mother of Jesus said to him, “They have no wine.” (And) Jesus said to her, “Woman, how does your concern affect me? My hour has not yet come.” His mother said to the servers, “Do whatever he tells you.” (John 2: 1-5)

Keep in mind the introductory clause: “On the third day…”  This means the third day from where John 1 left off (and keep in mind that there were no chapters or divisions in the original; these were not added until the Middle Ages).

If you remember our discussion of John 1 in part 2, you will remember that it follows a certain pattern from Genesis 1: “The next day…” “The next day…”  This phrase occurs three times, which makes for a total of four days accounted for in the first chapter of John’s Gospel.

Now, if the wedding at Cana takes place on the third day following the fourth day, what day would that be?  Come on, first-grade math buffs, you know it…

That’s right — the seventh day.

Just as the first Adam finds Eve on the Seventh Day, calling her “woman,” so does the New Adam see his Mother, the New Eve, on the seventh day, addressing her as “woman” (this, by the way, was an idiomatic expression in both Hebrew and Greek that implied no offense or denigration).  Just as on the Seventh Day of Genesis the first marriage takes place, so on the seventh day of John’s Gospel is there a wedding at which Christ, at the instigation of His Mother, will perform his first miracle (turning water into wine), thus inaugurating the new, spiritual marriage between God and man.

As the Mother of God, Mary had a unique and intimate partnership with her Divine Son in His plan of salvation.  The immensity and the great honor of her role are not to be underestimated…yet, that role would cost her.  She would have to give up her Son to a painful death (if you are a mother, please take a few moments to imagine this).  She would have to share in His very sufferings, as prophesied:

…and you yourself a sword will pierce… (Luke 2:35)

Yet through the strength of her obedience and love, Mother Mary has restored to us that which mother Eve lost us by her disobedience and selfishness.  God be praised!

Image from Wikipedia

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Annunciation

For part 1, click here: http://www.intothedance.wordpress.com/2013/05/25/the-praises-of-mary-the-new-eve-part-1/

St. Irenaeus of Lyons, a second-century Bishop, spoke of the Virgin Mary as having untied the “knot of Eve’s disobedience” with her own supreme act of obedience to the Divine Will.

Whereas Eve (like Adam) wanted to go her own way rather than trust in her Maker, Mary responded to the angel Gabriel’s annunciation of her virginal conception of Jesus with total humility:

“Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.” (Luke 1:38)

St_Justin_Martyr

St. Justin Martyr, a second-century Apostolic Father, contrasted the Virgin Mary with the virgin Eve in his “Dialogue with Trypho,” stating that just as Eve in her disobedience had “conceived the word of the serpent,” bringing sin and death into the world, St. Mary in her obedience conceived the Word of God, bringing redemption and life.

Christ became man by the Virgin in order that the disobedience that proceeded from the serpent might receive its destruction in the same manner in which it derived its origin. (Italics mine)*

Finally, we must take a brief look at the correspondence between Genesis chapters 1-2 and John chapters 1-2:

In the beginning, when God created the heavens and the earth, the earth was a formless wasteland, and darkness covered the abyss, while a mighty wind swept over the waters.  Then God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light.  God saw how good the light was. God then separated the light from the darkness. (Genesis 1: 1-4)

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  He was in the beginning with God.  All things came to be through him, and without him nothing came to be. What came to be through him was life, and this life was the light of the human race; the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. (John 1: 1-5)

All right, so far the connection is pretty clear.  St. John is evoking the Genesis account of creation, and proceeds to imitate the structure of Genesis chapter 1 in the progression of days (“and the next day,” “and the next day,” etc).  In doing so, he shows us that Jesus Christ, God’s own Creative Word, came to restore the first creation, which Adam’s sin plunged into ruin.

But what about the second chapter of these two Books?  We’ll get to that in part 3.  But until then, read Genesis 2 and John 2 for yourself, and see if you can spot a connection.

Photos from Wikipedia

* As quoted by Dr. Scott Hahn here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QgeU6d8Bxlo (9:00-9:11)

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