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To: All

From: Genesis 3:9-15, 20

Temptation and the First Sin (Continuation)


[9] But the Lord God called to the man, and said to him, “Where are you?”
[10] And he said, “I heard the sound of thee in the garden, and I was afraid, be-
cause I was naked; and I hid myself.” [11] He said, “Who told you that you were
naked? Have you eaten of the tree which I commanded you not to eat?” [12] The
man said, “The woman whom thou gavest to be with me, she gave me fruit of the
tree, and I ate.” [13] Then the Lord God said to the woman, “What is this that you
have done?” The woman said, “The serpent beguiled me, and I ate.” [14] The Lord
said to the serpent, “Because you have done this, cursed are you above all cattle,
and above all wild animals; upon your belly you shall go, and dust you shall eat
all the days of your life. [15] I will put enmity between you and the woman, and
between your seed and her seed; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise
his heel.”

[20] The man called his wife’s name Eve, because she was the mother of all li-
ving.

********************************************************************************************
Commentary:

3:7-13. This passage begins the description of the effects of the original sin.
Man and woman have come to know evil, and it shows, initially, in a most direct
way — in their own bodies. The inner harmony described in Genesis 2:25 is bro-
ken, and concupiscence rears its head. Their friendship with God is also broken,
and they flee from his presence, to avoid their nakedness being seen. As if his
Creator could not see them! The harmony between man and woman is also frac-
tured: he puts the blame on her, and she puts it on the serpent. But all three
share in the responsibility, and therefore all three are going to pay the penalty.

“The harmony in which they found themselves, thanks to original justice, is now
destroyed: the control of the soul’s spiritual faculties over the body is shattered:
the union of man and woman becomes subject to tensions (cf. Gen 3:7-16),
their relations henceforth marked by lust and domination. Harmony with creation
is broken: visible creation has become alien and hostile to man (cf. Gen 3:17,
19). Because of man, creation is now subject ‘to its bondage to decay’ (Rom 8:
21). Finally, the consequence explicitly foretold for this disobedience will come
true: man will ‘return to the ground’ (Gen 3:19), for out of it he was taken. ‘Death
makes its entrance into human history’ (cf. Roman 5:12)” (”Catechism of the
Catholic Church”, 400).

3:14-15. The punishment God imposes on the serpent includes confrontation
between woman and the serpent, between mankind and evil, with the promise
that man will come out on top. That is why this passage is called the “Proto-
gospel”: it is the first announcement to mankind of the good news of the Re-
deemer-Messiah. Clearly, a bruise to the head is deadly, whereas a bruise to
the heel is curable.

As the Second Vatican Council teaches, “God, who creates and conserves all
things by his Word, (cf. In 1:3), provides men with constant evidence of himself
in created realities (cf. Rom 1:19-20). And furthermore, wishing to open up the
way to heavenly salvation, by promising redemption (cf. Gen 3:15); and he has
never ceased to take care of the human race. For he wishes to give eternal life
to all those who seek salvation by patience in well-doing (cf. Rom 2:6-7)” (”Dei
Verbum”, 3).

Victory over the devil will be brought about by a descendant of the woman, the
Messiah. The Church has always read these verses as being messianic, refer-
ring to Jesus Christ; and it was seen in the woman the mother of the promised
Savior; the Virgin Mary is the new Eve. “The earliest documents, as they are
read in the Church and are understood in the light of a further and full revelation,
bring the figure of a woman, Mother of the Redeemer, into a gradually clearer
light. Considered in this light, she is already prophetically foreshadowed in the
promise of victory over the serpent which was given to our first parents after
their fall into sin (cf. Gen 3:15) [...]. Hence not a few of the early Fathers gladly
assert with Irenaeus in their preaching: ‘the knot of Eve’s disobedience was un-
tied by Mary’s obedience: what the virgin Eve bound through her disbelief, Mary
loosened by her faith’ (St Irenaeus, “Adv. haer.” 3, 22, 4) Comparing Mary with
Eve, they call her ‘Mother of the living’ (St Epiphanius, “Adv. haer. Panarium”
78, 18) and frequently claim: ‘death through Eve, life through Mary’ (St Jerome,
“Epistula” 22, 21; etc.)” (Vatican II, “Lumen Gentium”, 55-56).

So, woman is going to have a key role in that victory over the devil. In his Latin
translation of the Bible, the “Vulgate”, St Jerome in fact reads the relevant pas-
sage as “she [the woman] shall bruise your head”. That woman is the Blessed
Virgin, the new Eve and the mother of the Redeemer, who shares (by anticipa-
tion and pre-eminently) in the victory of her Son. Sin never left its mark on her,
and the Church proclaims her as the Immaculate Conception.

St Thomas explains that the reason why God did not prevent the first man from
sinning was because ‘God allows evils to be done in order to draw forth some
greater good. Thus St Paul says, ‘Where sin increased, grace abounded all the
more’ (Rom 5:20); and the “Exultet” sings, ‘O happy fault,...which gained for us
so great a Redeemer’” (”Summa Theologiae”, 3, 1, 3 and 3; cf. “Catechism of
the Catholic Church”, 412).

********************************************************************************************
Source: “The Navarre Bible: Text and Commentaries”. Biblical text from the
Revised Standard Version and New Vulgate. Commentaries by members of
the Faculty of Theology, University of Navarre, Spain.

Published by Four Courts Press, Kill Lane, Blackrock, Co. Dublin, Ireland, and
by Scepter Publishers in the United States.


3 posted on 12/07/2012 9:59:47 PM PST by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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To: All

From: Ephesians 1:3-6, 11-12

Hymn of Praise


[3] 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, [4] even as he
chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and
blameless before him. [5] He destined us in love to be his sons through Jesus
Christ, according to the purpose of his will, [6] to the praise of his glorious grace
which he freely bestowed on us in the Beloved.

[11] In him, according to the purpose of him who accomplishes all things accor-
ding to the counsel of his will, [12] we who first hoped in Christ have been des-
tined and appointed to live for the praise of his glory.

*********************************************************************************************
Commentary:

3-14. Verses 3-14 are a hymn of praise to God for the plan of salvation he has
devised and brought to fulfillment in benefit of men and all creation. It is written
in a liturgical style of rhythmic prose, similar to that in Colossians 1:15-20. In
the Greek it is one long complex sentence full of relative pronouns and clauses
which give it a designed unity; we can, however, distinguish two main sections.

The first (v. 3-10), divided into four stanzas, describes the blessings contained in
God’s salvific plan; St Paul terms this plan the “mystery” of God’s will. The sec-
tion begins by praising God for his eternal design, a plan, pre-dating creation, to
call us to the Church, to form a community of saints (first stanza: vv. 3f) and re-
ceive the grace of being children of God through Jesus Christ (second stanza: vv.
5f). It then reflects on Christ’s work of redemption which brings this eternal plan
of God to fulfillment (third stanza: vv. 7f). This section reaches its climax in the
fourth stanza (vv. 9f) which proclaims Christ as Lord of all creation, thereby re-
vealing the full development of God’s salvific plan.

The second section, which divides into two stanzas, deals with the application
of this plan — first to the Jews (fifth stanza: vv. 11f) and then to the Gentiles, who
are also called to share what God has promised: Jews and Gentiles join to form
a single people, the Church (sixth stanza: vv. 13f).

Hymns in praise of God, or “eulogies”, occur in many parts of Sacred Scripture
(cf. Ps 8; Ps 19; Dan 2:20-23; Lk 1:46-54, 68-78; etc.); they praise the Lord for
the wonders of creation or for spectacular interventions on behalf of his people.
Inspired by the Holy Spirit, St Paul here praises God the Father for all Christ’s
saving work, which extends from God’s original plan which he made before he
created the world, right up to the very end of time and the recapitulation of all
things in Christ.

We too should always have this same attitude of praise of the Lord. “Our entire
life on earth should take the form of praise of God, for the never-ending joy of our
future life consists in praising God, and no one can become fit for that future life
unless he train himself to render that praise now” (St Augustine, “Enarrationes
in Psalmos”, 148).

Praise is in fact the most appropriate attitude for man to have towards God: “How
can you dare use that spark of divine intelligence — your mind — in anything but in
giving glory to your Lord?” (St. J. Escriva, “The Way”, 782).

3. St Paul blesses God as Father of our Lord Jesus Christ because it is through
Christ that all God’s blessings and gifts reach us. God’s actions in favor of man
are actions of all three divine Persons; the divine plan which the Apostle consi-
ders here has its origin in the Blessed Trinity; it is eternal. “These three Persons
are not to be considered separable,” the Eleventh Council of Toledo teaches,
“since we believe that not one of them existed or at any time effected anything
before the other, after the other, or without the other. For in existence and ope-
ration they are found to be inseparable” (”De Trinitate” Creed, “Dz-Sch”, 531).

In the implementation of this divine plan of salvation, the work of Redemption is
attributed to the Son and that of sanctification to the Holy Spirit. “To help us
grasp in some measure this unfathomable mystery, we might imagine the Bles-
sed Trinity taking counsel together in their uninterrupted intimate relationship of
infinite love. As a result of their eternal decision, the only-begotten Son of God
the Father takes on our human condition and bears the burden of our wretched-
ness and sorrows, to end up sewn with nails to a piece of wood” (St. J. Escriva,
“Christ Is Passing By”, 95).

St Paul describes as “spiritual blessings” all the gifts which the implementation
of God’s plan implies, gifts which are distributed by the Holy Spirit. When he
speaks of them as being “in the heavenly places” and “in Christ”, he is saying
that through Christ who has risen from the dead and ascended on high we too
have been inserted into the world of God (cf. 1:20; 2:6).

When man describes God as “blessed” it means he recognizes God’s greatness
and goodness, and rejoices over the divine gifts he has received (cf. Lk 1:46, 68).
Here is what St Thomas Aquinas has to say about the meaning of this passage:
“The Apostle says, ‘Benedictus’ [Blessed be the God ...], that is, may I, and you,
and everyone bless him, with our heart, our mouth, our actions — praising him as
God and as Father, for he is God because of his essence and Father because of
his power to generate” (”Commentary on Eph.”, 1, 6).

Sacred Scripture very often invites us to praise God our Lord (cf. Ps 8:19; 33; 46-
48; etc.); this is not a matter only of verbal praise: our actions should prove that
we mean what we say: “He who does good with his hands praises the Lord, and
he who confesses the Lord with his mouth praises the Lord. Praise him by your
actions” (St Augustine, “Enarrationes in Psalmos”, 91, 2).

4. As the hymn develops, the Apostle details each of the blessings contained in
God’s eternal plan. The first of these is his choice, before the foundation of the
world, of those who would become part of the Church. The word he uses, trans-
lated here as “chose”, is the same one as used in the Greek translation of the
Old Testament to refer to God’s election of Israel. The Church, the new people
of God, is constituted by assembling in and around Christ those who have been
chosen and called to holiness. This implies that although the Church was foun-
ded by Christ at a particular point in history, its origin goes right back to the eter-
nal divine plan. ‘The eternal Father, in accordance with the utterly gratuitous and
mysterious design of his wisdom and goodness,... ‘predestined (the elect) to be
conformed to the image of his Son in order that he might be the first-born among
many brethren’ (Rom 8:29). He determined to call together in a holy Church those
who believe in Christ. Already present in figure at the beginning of the world, this
Church was prepared in marvelous fashion in the history of the people of Israel
and in the Old Alliance. Established in this last age of the world, and made mani-
fest in the outpouring of the Spirit, it will be brought to glorious completion at the
end of time” (Vatican II, “Lumen Gentium”, 2).

God’s choice seeks to have us become “holy and blameless before him”. In the
same way as in the Old Testament a victim offered to God had to be unblemished,
blameless (cf. Gen 17:1), the blameless holiness to which God has destined us
admits of no imperfection. By the very fact of being baptized we are made holy (cf.
note on 1:1), and during our lifetime we try to grow holier with the help of God;
however, complete holiness is something we shall attain only in heaven.

The holiness with which we have been endowed is an undeserved gift from God:
it is not a reward for any merit on our part: even before we were created God
chose us to be his: “’He chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that
we should be holy.’ I know that such thoughts don’t fill you with pride or lead you
to think yourself better than others. That choice, the root of your vocation, should
be the basis of your humility. Do we build monuments to an artist’s paintbrush?
Granted the brush had a part in creating masterpieces, but we give credit only to
the painter. We Christians are nothing more than instruments in the hands of the
Creator of the world, the Redeemer of all men” (St. J. Escriva, “Christ Is Passing
By”, 1).

“He destined us in love”: the loving initiative is God’s. “If God has honored us with
countless gifts it is thanks to his love, not to our merits. Our fervor, our strength,
our faith and our unity are the fruit of God’s benevolence and our response to his
goodness” (St John Chrysostom, “Hom. on Eph, ad loc”.).

God’s election of Christians and their vocation to holiness, as also the gift of di-
vine filiation, reveals that God is Love (cf. 1 Jn 4:8); we have become partakers
of God’s very nature (cf. 2 Pet 1:4), sharers, that is, in the love of God.

“He destined us in love”, therefore, also includes the Christian’s love of God and
of others: charity is a sharing in God’s own love; it is the essence of holiness,
the Christian’s law; nothing has any value if it is not inspired by charity (cf. 1
Cor 13:1-3).

5. The Apostle goes on to explore the further implications of God’s eternal plan:
those chosen to form part of the Church have been given a second blessing, as
it were, by being predestined to be adoptive children of God. ‘The state of this
people is that of the dignity and freedom of the sons of God, in whose hearts the
Holy Spirit dwells as in a temple” (Vatican II, “Lumen Gentium, 9).

This predestination to which the Apostle refers means that God determined from
all eternity that the members of the new people of God should attain holiness
through his gift of adoptive sonship. It is God’s desire that all be saved (cf. 1 Tim
2:4) and he gives each person the means necessary for obtaining eternal life.
Therefore, no one is predestined to damnation (cf. Third Council of Valence, “De
Praedestinatione”, can. 3).

The source of the Christian’s divine sonship is Jesus Christ. God’s only Son, one
in substance with the Father, took on human nature in order to make us sons and
daughters of God by adoption (cf. Rom 8:15, 29; 9:4; Gal 4:5). This is why every
member of the Church can say: “See what love the Father has given us, that we
should be called children of God; and so we are” (1 Jn 3:1).

What is involved here is not simply formal adoption, which is something external
and does not affect the very person of the child. Divine adoption affects man’s en-
tire being, it inserts him into God’s own life; for Baptism makes us truly his chil-
dren, partakers of the divine nature (cf. 2 Pet 1:4). Divine sonship is therefore the
greatest of the gifts God bestows on man during his life on earth. It is indeed right
to exclaim “Blessed be God” (v. 3) when one reflects on this great gift: it is right
for children openly to acknowledge their father and show their love for him.

Divine filiation has many rich effects as far as the spiritual life is concerned. “A
child of God treats the Lord as his Father. He is not obsequious and servile; he
is not merely formal and well-mannered: he is completely sincere and trusting.
God is not shocked by what we do. Our infidelities do not wear him out. Our Fa-
ther in heaven pardons any offense when his child returns to him, when he repents
and asks for pardon. The Lord is such a good father that he anticipates our desire
to be pardoned and comes forward to us, opening his arms laden with grace” (St.
J. Escriva, “Christ Is Passing By”, 64). See the notes on Jn 1:12.

6. The gift of divine filiation is the greatest expression of the glory of God (cf. note
on 1:17 below), because it reveals the full extent of God’s love for man. St Paul
stresses what the purpose of this eternal divine plan is — to promote “the praise
of his glorious grace”. God’s glory has been made manifest through his merciful
love, which has led him to make us his children in accordance with the eternal
purpose of his will. This eternal design “flows from ‘fountain-like love’, the love of
God the Father [...]. God in his great and merciful kindness freely creates us and,
moreover, graciously calls us to share in his life and glory. He generously pours
out, and never ceases to pour out, his divine goodness, so that he who is Creator
of all things might at last become ‘everything to everyone’ (1 Cor 15:28), thus si-
multaneously assuring his own glory and our happiness” (Vatican II, “Ad Gentes”,
2).

The grace which St Paul speaks of here and which manifests the glory of God re-
fers first to the fact that God’s blessings are totally unmerited by us and include
the grace-conferring gifts of holiness and divine filiation.

“In the Beloved”: the Old Testament stresses again and again that God loves his
people and that Israel is that cherished people (cf. Deut 33:12; is 5:1, 7; 1 Mac
6:11; etc.). In the New Testament Christians are called “beloved by God” (1 Thess
1:4; cf. Col 3:12). However, there is only one “Beloved”, strictly speaking, Jesus
Christ our Lord — as God revealed from the bright cloud at the Transfiguration:
“This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased” (Mt 17:5). The Son of his
love has obtained man’s redemption and brought forgiveness of sins (cf. Col 1:
13ff), and it is through his grace that we become pleasing to God, lovable by him
with the same love with which he loves his Son. At the Last Supper, Jesus asked
his Father for this very thing — “so that the world may know that thou hast sent
me and hast loved them even as thou hast loved me” (Jn 17:23). “Notice”, St
John Chrysostom points out, “that Paul does not say that this grace has been
given us for no purpose but that it has been given us to make us pleasing and lo-
vable in his eyes, now that we are purified of our sins” (”Hom. on Eph, ad loc.”).

11-14. The Apostle now contemplates a further divine blessing — the implemen-
tation of the “mystery” through the Redemption wrought by Christ: God calls the
Jews (vv. 11f) and the Gentiles (v. 13) together, to form a single people (v. 14).
Paul first refers to the Jewish people, of which he himself is a member, which is
why he uses the term “we” (v. 12). He then speaks of the Gentile Christians and
refers to them as “you” (v. 13).

11-12. The Jewish people’s expectations have been fulfilled in Christ: he has
brought the Kingdom of God and the messianic gifts, designed in the first in-
stance for Israel as its inheritance (cf. Mt 4:17; 12:28; Lk 4:16-22). God’s inten-
tion in selecting Israel was to form a people of his own (cf. Ex 19:5) that would
glorify him and proclaim to the nations its hope in a coming Messiah. “God, with
loving concern contemplating, and making preparation for, the salvation of the
whole human race, in a singular undertaking chose for himself a people to whom
he would entrust his promises. By his covenant with Abraham (cf. Gen 15:18)
and, through Moses, with the race of Israel (cf. Ex 24:8), he did acquire a people
for himself, and to them he revealed himself in words and deeds as the one, true,
living God, so that Israel might experience the ways of God with men. Moreover,
by listening to the voice of God speaking to them through the prophets, they had
steadily to understand his ways more fully and more clearly, and make them
more widely known among the nations (cf. Ps 21:28-9; 95:1-3; Is 2:1-4; Jer 3:
17)” (Vatican II, “Dei Verbum”, 14).

St Paul emphasizes that even before the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, the
just of the Old Testament acted in line with their belief in the promised Messiah
(cf. Gal 3:11; Rom 1:17); not only did they look forward to his coming but their
hope was nourished by faith in Christ as a result of their acceptance of God’s
promise. As later examples of this same faith we might mention Zechariah and
Elizabeth; Simeon and Anna; and, above all, St Joseph. St Joseph’s faith was
“full, confident, complete”, St. Escriva comments. “It expressed itself in an ef-
fective dedication to the will of God and an intelligent obedience. With faith went
love. His faith nurtured his love of God, who was fulfilling the promises made to
Abraham, Jacob and Moses, and his affection for Mary his wife and his fatherly
affection for Jesus. This faith, hope and love would further the great mission
which God was beginning in the world through, among others, a carpenter in
Galilee — the redemption of mankind” (”Christ Is Passing By”, 42).

*********************************************************************************************
Source: “The Navarre Bible: Text and Commentaries”. Biblical text from the
Revised Standard Version and New Vulgate. Commentaries by members of
the Faculty of Theology, University of Navarre, Spain.

Published by Four Courts Press, Kill Lane, Blackrock, Co. Dublin, Ireland, and
by Scepter Publishers in the United States.


4 posted on 12/07/2012 10:00:44 PM PST by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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