Friday of the Fifth Week in Ordinary Time
(Genesis 3:1-8; Mark 7:31-37)
There was once a television program, “What’s My Line.” It had a panel of celebrities guessing which of three contestants was the person fitting the description given to the panel. We can hear today’s Genesis reading in this way. Who owns the voice tempting the woman? Is it a talking snake that has become extinct? Or is it an evil spirit that has taken control of the snake? Or is it the inner voice of the woman coming to terms with a moral choice she must make? There may be in this case a fourth contestant. It may be an evil spirit that is leading the woman on.
In any case, the voice asks a provocative question: “Did God really tell you not to eat of any of the tree…?” It is a set-up that puts the woman in a vulnerable situation. Unfortunately, she falls into the trap. She does not acknowledge God as her and the man’s benefactor. God gives them abundant fruit to eat. He also tells them not to eat the forbidden fruit for their own welfare. She only remembers a rule that sounds arbitrary. She says that if they eat the forbidden fruit, they will die. Testing that rule and inviting the man to do so, the two commit the “original” sin.
We must see God as always benevolent. He gives us first life and then the world to meet our needs. He has imposed laws for our welfare. First and foremost, we should acknowledge them as such and heed them. When we examine the laws, we will realize that they are not arbitrary but protective. For example, God says, “Do not kill.” The understanding here is not to take innocent life. We are not to bend this law by assisting in suicide. It seems beneficial that people suffering extremely with no hope of recovery be killed. Assisting in the killing, however, will not only enable other kinds of murder but also ruin our souls.