In our previous meditation on Eve we emphasized how she was called to share dominion together with Adam. In the original command God said they were to:
have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth. So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. [Gn 1:26-27]
The first parents were also commanded to be fruitful, to begin the human race. But how were they to rule? We noted that the masculine brain assimilates data by a positive focus. He isolates data to determine its special value. The feminine brain, on the contrary, does not assimilate data in isolation because the female receives data in an unending stream of electrical impulses from all directions in both lobes. For this reason women have an innate ability to see data, things and persons in relationship to other data, things and persons. With effort, but not for any extended length of time, a woman can simulate a manly attention to detail, but we noted last week that the man can never simulate the woman’s ability to experience multiple stimuli at once, because it’s a contradiction in terms to focus on everything. These two different ways of assimilating information form a wonderful complementarity for appreciating the totality of reality.
Beyond the grace of their different ways of apprehending their situation in the Garden, we proposed that it was surely God’s intention to anoint them with a special grace of authority so as to be able rule the Garden society in a holy and orderly manner, to build itself up in love, as St. Paul said of the body, the Church. [Eph 4:16] But this grace would require their willing cooperation. Furthermore, God in his justice could not allow them to use his own delegated power of authority to abuse subsequent human beings created in his image. Therefore it was proper to test the couple before endowing them with such a serious responsibility. At the end of the second chapter of Genesis and moving into the third chapter, in a tight cluster of a few verses, we hear the precept not to eat the fruit of one single tree in that vast Garden, and then the precept about the man clinging to the woman to become one flesh. Immediately afterwards, we noted, a sinister guest was allowed into the Garden to test them.
We all know how the story ended in the disaster of Original Sin, and we know that for centuries religious authorities urged the Church not to even bother trying to imagine a happier ending. It seemed more practical to concentrate on keeping afloat this leaky boat of our fallen human race that we may strive, to quote St. Paul, “to be blameless and innocent . . . in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation.” [Php 2:15] But St. John Paul the Great lifted that prohibition regarding the locked gates of the Garden. He even urged us to enter in. Only in our origins can we discover the original plan. How else can we rebuild paradise on earth? It is Mary who has been telling us of a new and beautiful era that is coming, the triumph of her Immaculate Heart. In her apparitions She’s been asking us to help her bring in that era. But who is the New Eve? What is her role that we are being asked to assist with? It is necessary to try our best to reconstruct the Garden of Eden and ask what would have happened that day, if the Old Eve had been appalled by the serpent’s cunning accusation that God was a liar. Let us slip in now, through the opened gate of paradise to eavesdrop on the conversation.
Now the serpent was more subtle than any other wild creature that Yahweh God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree of the Garden.’?”[Gn 3:1]
You’ve probably heard the joke that Eve’s first mistake was to respond to a talking snake. Since snakes don’t talk, she should have been immediately suspicious. Whoever told that joke didn’t read the rest of the chapter. After all three characters had sinned–the woman, man and the serpent–the witness records:
Yahweh God said to the serpent, ‘because you have done this, cursed are you above all the animals, wild and tame. Upon your belly you shall go, and dirt you shall eat all the days of your life.’ [Gn 3:14]
When Eve responded to this talking “creature” it wasn’t slithering on the ground, nor did it turn into “the first snake” at the moment God cursed it. The witness of Genesis introduces the creature immediately as a “hisser.” This is the Hebrew word for snakes, and all reptiles in general.
In our modern society we constantly employ animals to symbolize groups of persons. Republicans are elephants and Democrats donkeys. For schools and sports teams we root for the Jayhawks or boo at the Cougars. In our businesses, Tony the Tiger stands for Kellogg’s Frosted Flakes, and a roaring lion lets us know that the movie we are watching was produced by Metro Goldwyn Mayer studios. And of course, nations usually choose a mascot also. If Ben Franklin had his way, the USA would have a turkey instead of a bald eagle.
But none of this is new! It’s all over the Old Testament. On his deathbed around 2000 bc, the patriarch Jacob blessed his twelve sons. In Genesis chapter 49 we read how the dying Israel designated each head of a future tribe by an animal symbol. He called Judah a lion’s whelp, Issachar a strong ass, Naphtali a deer let loose, Benjamin a ravenous wolf, and so on.
The Old Testament habitually used animals to represent a group. The cunning animal who spoke to Eve in the Garden represented a legion of suave and persuasive spirits who were rightly represented by a snake or serpent. Snakes are predators and carnivores. They feed on other living things: insects, fish, birds, eggs, mammals and even other even reptiles. On the planet today there are over two thousand known species. After the fall of Adam and Eve, God curses this pack of demons and limits their access to mankind. They will no longer be able to approach men openly but will have to slither in the dark corners of our consciousness and feed on the dirty elements of a fallen society. But this prohibition did not apply until the curse. God first made use of the fallen angels to test the first couple.
The woman answered the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the Garden; but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the Garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.’” But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” [Gn 3: 2-5]
This was the first lie ever uttered upon the earth, and it was uttered by the “father of lies”, the head of that talking beast. Let us imagine that our first mother felt troubled by these words, even as Mary felt troubled when the Archangel called her “full of grace.” What kind of flattery is going on here? Eve knew she wasn’t a goddess. She didn’t create the Garden or herself. It’s the prerogative of the Creator to decide what’s good or bad. But the temptation went deeper for Eve. If she and Adam had children and their children had children, it would be more difficult with each generation to preserve the Garden in unity and peace. Was this cunning, intelligent spirit offering a way of enforcing whatever she and Adam might decide as good and evil as they laid out rules for the Garden society?
Now Adam and Eve did not see God but they heard his voice and they knew his name: Yahweh, “I Am who Am” or “He Is who He Is.” We are not told if God freely revealed his name to Adam or if Adam named God even as Adam had named the animals. It was the perfect and ultimate name for the Being from whom all things come. Let us imagine that Eve called out:
Yahweh, you have asked us to be fruitful. I am willing to conceive and bear children, but how can I exercise dominion over them when they become adults. How can we keep society united in love? And how can Adam and I, two persons, become one flesh? Lord, I do not doubt you, but I ask how shall this be? [cf Lk 1:34]
We see the tempter pulling back into the shadows as the Voice responds to the woman:
The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the offspring will be called holy. [Lk 1:35]
The woman was not like the other creature-gifts which God had bestowed upon the man. The woman [of-man or for-man] was a person who could only fulfill her role as the gift of God’s love to man if she freely chose to give herself to the man. The decision was entirely hers, and upon that decision hung the destiny of the human race. She now understood that her willing obedience to the Father by opening her embrace to Adam would draw upon herself the gift of the Holy Spirit. This good Eve responded:
Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. [Lk 1:35]
So now the defeated enemy turns to tempt Adam. He could have suggested to Adam that he should appropriate Eve to himself as an object to be seized, grasped, and used for his own pleasure. However, this is doubtful because Satan would not have wanted union of any kind that might produce offspring. It would have been more probable that he would have attempted to induce Adam to destroy himself. Let us imagine him leading Adam to some elevated location in the Garden, saying:
If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down!. . . He will send angels whose hands will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone. Note: The Lukan gospel genealogy ends: the son of Enos, the son of Seth, the son of Adam, the son of God. [Lk 3:38]
In this happy scenario, the good Adam responds:
You shall not tempt the Lord your God!
Frustrated, the serpent would have conjured up future generations of Adam’s descendants and
shown him all the kingdoms of the world and the glory of them; saying to him, ‘All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me!’ [cf Mt 4:5-9]
But our good Adam responds as a true son! He clasps to himself the woman, singing to Eve:
O that you would kiss me with the kisses of your mouth! Draw me after you, let us make haste. The king [Yahweh] has brought me into his chambers. We will exult and rejoice in you my First Lady; we will extol your love . . . your kisses are like the best wine. [Can 1:2-4,7]
In the kisses of Eve’s mouth he would have tasted the wine of the eternal love of Yahweh, the king of heaven, who had prepared their Garden-chamber, and in this inebriation Adam would have been moved to sing to the Father:
Draw me, Lord your son, after you through the power of your loving Spirit; let Eve and I make haste to please you.
Adam, offers the woman back to God, wishing to receive her again as wife. The Spirit of God rushes down, arousing Adam with the power of fatherhood. Thus in the sinless plan, libido is sanctified and confirmed as holy. It is right for every man to feel joy and pleasure in beholding every woman.
Whereas before, the holy angels had to stay in retreat to allow the man and woman to be tested, now they manifest themselves with music and festivity to celebrate the betrothal in the Garden. Whenever Adam and Eve come together as man and wife, the Holy Spirit will always be present so that all their offspring will be conceived in a state of grace, just as they, the first parents had been created in a state of grace. Each child would be an immaculate conception wherein:
God’s love is poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit. [Rom 5:5]
But, even over children conceived in a state of grace, the parents did not possess in themselves the power or means to effect a state of union in society. So Adam and Eve held back from their flowery nuptial bed, continuing in ardent prayer that the future inhabitants of the Garden, their offspring, would become a:
company of those who believe, of one heart and soul, and no one saying that any of the things which he possessed is his own, but having everything in common. [Acts 4:32]
How pleasing this prayer was to the Holy Trinity! Could we hear the Son praying in heaven?
that they may all be one; even as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be in us . . . The glory which thou hast given me I [long to give] to them, that they may be one even as we are one, I in them and thou in me, that they may become perfectly one . . . Father, I desire that they . . . may . . . behold my glory which thou hast given me in thy love for me before the foundation of the world. O righteous Father . . . send [me, that] I may make known to them thy name, that the love with which thou hast loved me may be in them, and I in them. [Jn 17 21-25]
Can we dare to paraphrase his prayer at the Last Supper?
I pray thee Father to give them another Counselor, to be with them forever, even the Spirit of truth, to dwell with them, and to be in them. . . I want to come to them so that they will know that I am in you, and they in me, and I in them. [paraphrasing Jn 14:16-20]
Can we propose that into the innocent garden:
the Word became flesh and dwelt among [them], full of grace and truth; and they beheld his glory? [Jn 1:14]
Is this a rash and idle speculation? Am I wasting your time this evening to ask you to consider the possibility that it was God’s original plan for his Son to become incarnate? There was a great and heated medieval debate between the Franciscans and the Dominicans regarding the ultimate reason for the Incarnation. The followers of the Franciscan, Bl. Duns Scotus, proposed that God became incarnate out of love for man, whereas the Dominicans argued, in logical scholastic fashion, that Scripture only tells us that God became incarnate to redeem the sinful human race.
Who are we to dare to enter into a discussion that the greatest minds of the Church could not settle? Or, was it eventually settled, but it hasn’t entered into the popular conversation of modern Catholics because it seems like a medieval topic for dusty libraries? In Carmel, we had two hours a day for mental prayer, with additional quiet evening hours for study. For a long time I deliberately chose the Garden as the subject of my meditations and study for the purpose of discovering the original Eve. But my mind came to a halt here at this question regarding the possibility of the Incarnation of Christ as the fruit of Eve’s humble obedience. Was this the next step in the saga of the Unfallen Race, or was it something else? I had to find the way forward, if I was going to understand the role of the New Eve.
I came across a couple of authors who declared that the century-old dispute was quietly settled in a document of Vatican II:
The Lord is the goal of human history, the focal point of the longings of history and of civilization, the center of the human race, the joy of every heart and the answer to all its yearnings [Gaudium et spes 45]
The difficulties with the assertion that this passage settled the dispute are firstly, that it references a couple of passages of the New Testament which are extremely vague for this context; secondly, this particular document is not one of the dogmatic documents so it’s only a meditation and not doctrine; and thirdly, it doesn’t explain what it means that Jesus is the center of the human race. So I had to search further.
Cur Deus homo? Why did God become man? The classic question was given the classic answer by St. Paul who declared: Let it be known to you, brethren, that through this man (Jesus) forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you [Acts 13:38]. Was this to assert that the most stupendous act of God’s love for man was dependent on the depravity of sin? Do we have to thank the serpent and the ungrateful and disobedient first man and woman for the Incarnation? Bl. Duns Scotus found this proposal preposterous and I was strongly inclined to agree. But where is the Scripture passage to support an Incarnation for love rather than redemption?
Meditation on the covenants of the Old Testament leads to serious doubt that the Father originally desired and proposed that his Son would enter creation for the purpose of being humiliated, rejected and slaughtered. What Father would desire such a thing? The covenant promises were mysterious but always glorious. Abraham was told that his seed would become a blessing for all nations.[Gn 12:3] At Sinai, God promised that Israel would be the “first-born” of all the nations, a priestly people whom God would use to sanctify the rest of mankind. [Ex 19:5-6] The prophet Isaiah claimed that Jerusalem would be a holy city and all nations would stream toward it. [Is. 2:2] As each covenant went unheeded by the majority, Yahweh revised it and proposed a fresh version.
If those covenants had been kept, and the chosen people had labored “to purge the evil from their midst,” [Dt. 13:5] what can prevent us from speculating that God would have sent his Son triumphantly to a people who had thoroughly repented of Original Sin and shown itself eager to honor and welcome the promised Messiah? It could hardly have been the Father’s express desire that his Son would come “to his own home, and his own people receive him not.” [Jn 1:9-11] Does God do anything imperfectly? Would He have initiated salvation history with imperfect covenants? Was it not rather that man responded imperfectly? Since none of the old covenants were allowed to develop in their original meaning, but fell like seeds into parched ground, we cannot know exactly how their beauty would have unfolded or in what manner atonement for sin would have been accomplished in the midst of a humble and repentant people whose Hosannas [Lord, save us!] would never have deteriorated into the cry “crucify Him!”
Was sin in the Original plan? Was living forever in the earthly paradise the fullness of the Original plan? When one spends a lot of time with God’s word, one develops a strong sense of who God is, how He thinks, what He desires. Some saints reached a very intimate knowledge of the heart of God. St. John of the Cross insisted that the Lord’s
only desire . . . is the exaltation of the soul. . . If anything pleases Him, it is the exaltation of the soul. [And] there is no way by which He can exalt her more than by making her equal to Himself. For the property of love is to make the lover equal to the beloved.
St. John of the Cross, Spiritual Canticle 28:1
Did God create the universe for his entertainment—to watch mankind as one watches a sporting match or a soap opera? That’s ridiculous. In comparison with the vortex of love going on in the mighty Trinity, everything happening on this
planet is one big yawn. And anyway, after the first sin, the Three Persons in their holiness would have smashed it in disgust rather than witness man abuse man, century upon century. If they let it continue, it was surely to get it back to their Original plan. If God was prepared to become Incarnate for sinners, how much more was He prepared to so for lovers?
God so loved the world that He gave his only Son. [Jn 3:16]
Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. [Jn 15:13]
While we were yet sinners Christ died for us. [Rom 5:8]
If our first parents had not sinned, could we say:
God so loved the world that He would have given his only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish of loving desire, but have eternal life and not merely immortal, earthly life. So God sent the Son into the world, not to condemn the innocent world, but that the world might be saved from mere immortality to receive eternal life through Jesus, Son of the Father. [confer Jn 3:16-17]
Did God prepare a place in heaven for the first man in the Original plan? Or did the Holy Trinity witness the first Original Sin and suddenly feel a desire that these excellent creatures should come join them in heaven? Surely that’s absurd! Now, it’s a completely separate theological discussion to ask if the Incarnation of the Son of God was necessary for atonement for sin, or if perhaps God could have redeemed us in another way. The specific question we are asking now, concerns the Garden, as to whether the Incarnation is necessary for “exulting the soul,” for raising man to heaven, and if heaven was truly man’s ultimate destiny from the beginning?
But what is the Incarnation?
One member of the Uncreated Trinity, the Son of the Father, unites his personal eternal spirit to created flesh. In one same Person, divinity and humanity are united, but not intermingled. The name for this is hypostatic union. You and I have three parts: a created spirit which contains our free will, a created body, and a soul. The word for soul in Greek is psyche where we get the word psychology. St. Paul prayed: May the God of peace himself sanctify you wholly, your spirit and soul and body. [1Th 5:23]
In English we usually conflate spirit and soul. The soul-psyche is the natural will which is motivated, not by reason but by the body. An animal will respond to food with a strong will and a small child will run toward candy. But once the child has acquired a certain level of experience to coalesce with his intelligence, his spirit will be able to override his natural instincts and he can govern himself with his free will. The spirit, not the soul, is the base of our personhood. Jesus Christ has only one spirit, his divine, uncreated, eternal spirit. When He acquired a human body, he acquired a human psyche because that’s what drives and motivates the animal part of man. But Jesus Christ did not acquire a created human spirit.
It’s very difficult for us to analyze the nature of spirits. Angelic spirits are different from human spirits although both are created spirits which is quite different from the uncreated divine spirits of the Three Persons. Living in this world of space and time is like being under water. We can’t analyze the difference between feeling wet or dry. We can’t get out of the water to determine whether we’re in a lake or an ocean. We don’t get the necessary perspective until we are fully released from this vast, but really so tiny, universe.
The early fathers of the Church had long discussions and they worked out a term called hypostatic which means that the uncreated divine person subsists in a created substance. Does our human created spirit subsist in our created bodies? You might be surprised how many questions theology and Church teaching don’t attempt to answer. When one inquires into the person of Mary, it opens up many questions like this.
For now, let us simply assert that the Incarnation of the Son of God is man’s vital link, his “way” into the communion of Divine Persons which is in itself the bliss of everlasting glory. “No eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man conceived, what God has prepared for those who love him.” [1 Cor. 2:9]
We will elaborate on this later on.
As for scriptural evidence, there is sufficient to assert that Heaven was part of God’s Original Plan:
Mt 25:34 — Then the King will say to those at his right hand, ‘Come, O blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.
Eph. 1 — Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before Him. He destined us in love to be his sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved.
2 Tim 1— Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God according to the promise of the life which is in Christ Jesus, to Timothy, my beloved child . . . Do not be ashamed then of testifying to our Lord, nor of me his prisoner, but share in suffering for the gospel in the power of God, who saved us and called us with a holy calling, not in virtue of our works but in virtue of his own purpose and the grace which he gave us in Christ Jesus ages ago, and now has manifested through the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.
Was the Incarnation in the Original Plan?
In the November issue of Inside the Vatican back in 2005 (p. 47) a writer recalls a chance meeting with Cardinal Ratzinger. It was well-known that as a theologian Ratzinger agreed more with the Franciscan view of the Incarnation than his Dominican. But He pointed out what St. Thomas Aquinas indicates in the Summa Theologiae II-II, question 2, art. 7.
The object of faith includes, properly and directly, that thing through which man obtains beatitude [heaven].. Now the mystery of Christ’s Incarnation and Passion is the way by which men obtain beatitude; for it is written:
There is no other name under heaven given to men, whereby we must be saved. [Acts 4:12]
—-We could insert numerous other passages, for example
Whoever believes in him will not perish but will have eternal life. [Jn 3:16]
St. Thomas continues:
Therefore belief of some kind in the mystery of Christ’s Incarnation was necessary at all times and for all persons, but this belief differed according to differences of times and persons. The reason of this is that before the state of sin, man believed, explicitly in Christ’s Incarnation, in so far as it was intended for the consummation of glory—but not as it was intended to deliver man from sin by the Passion and Resurrection, since man had no foreknowledge of his future sin.—He (man, Adam) does, however, seem to have had foreknowledge of the Incarnation of Christ, from the fact that he said (Gn. 2:24): “Wherefore a man shall leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife,” of which the Apostle [Paul]. continues (Eph. 5:32) “the two shall become one flesh. This mystery is a profound one, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church;” it is incredible that the first man was ignorant about this sacrament.
St. Thomas was suggesting that St. Paul was suggesting that Adam could have known about the plan for Christ and his Church, and his faith in the Incarnation would have been sufficient for him and his offspring to be admitted to eternal life if he had not sinned. But after the Original Sin, it became necessary to wait for the Messiah, then to have faith in both the Incarnation and redemptive death of Jesus in order to be saved. It’s a question for another day as to the salvation of those who lived before and after Christ who did not hear the good news.
Let’s return to the lovely sinless Garden. We can now assert that when the sinless Eve uttered her Fiat, her “let it be done,” opens up a way for the Incarnation to happen. But in spite of the holy dispositions of the first couple, it would not have been fitting for Jesus to have been born from the conjugal union of Adam and Eve. It would not be proper for the Son who was begotten from eternity from one Father to have a second origin. Adam himself did not have a human father. Neither Adam nor Eve began life as infants. A human generation of an infant Son of God was not strictly necessary for him to become incarnate and a member of the human race. John the Baptist vigorously assured the Pharisees.“Do not presume to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father’; for I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children to Abraham.” [Mt 3:9]
Let us adjust the first words of the gospel of St. John the Evangelist to show that it would have been easy to imagine Christ entering the world in its pristine beauty to be received with joy as the fruit of the loving union of sinless parents.
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. . . . In him was life, and the life was the light of men . . . He was in the world, and the world was made through him, –AND–the world knew him .–– He came to his own, and his own received him—and —believed in his name—and– he gave them power to become children of God; who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God. So the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth; we have beheld his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father. [Jn 1: 1-14]
We’ll return again to the sinless Garden to discover more about the sinless Eve. Thank you.