Friday, February 10, 2017

MAN'S FALL


Homily for February 11th, 2017: Genesis 3:9-24.

          Have you ever felt so ashamed of yourself that you wanted to run away and hide? Today’s first reading is about a man who felt that way. After disobeying God’s command, Adam hides, hoping to avoid a confrontation with the loving Creator and Father against whom he has rebelled. 

          When God pursues him and asks, “Where are you?” the man replies: “I was afraid ... so I hid myself.” He thought he would find happiness by ‘doing his own thing.’ Instead he finds only disappointment, frustration, and shame. Is there anyone here who has never had a similar experience? This simple story is no primitive folk tale. It is the story of Everyman with a capital “E” – true to our common experience of life. If the story has a moral, it is this. We find happiness, joy, and peace only when we stop trying to run away and hide from God, and begin entrusting ourselves to him in faith. 

          “In faith” is crucial. It means trusting God. That does not come easily to us. Our natural instinct is to trust ourselves. Most of the time we enjoy playing the leading role in what Fr. Robert Barron, widely recognized as the Bishop Fulton Sheen of our day, calls our “egodrama” – an apt term for the idea that life is really all about me, and I’m in charge, thank you.

          It takes most of us years, with many falls into disgrace and failure, to learn that life is not all about me. We begin really to live, and to enjoy happiness, fulfillment, and peace, only when we start to enter into what Fr. Barron calls the “theodrama” – God’s drama. He plays the leading role, he is in charge.  

          People who do that to a heroic decree are called saints. They surrender their lives to the One who made them, using their parents as his instruments: the Lord God. St. Ignatius Loyola, founder of the Society of Jesus (the Jesuits), wrote what has become a classic prayer which expresses this surrender. I learned it at age 12. I have prayed it daily ever since. It goes like this:

“Take, O Lord, and receive my entire life: my liberty, my understanding, my memory, my will. All that I am and have you have given me. I give back to you all, to be disposed of according to your good pleasure. Give me only the comfort of your presence, and the joy of your love. With these I shall be more than rich, and shall desire nothing more.”