December 11, 2005

Genesis and Gravity and Original Sin

There was a line in John Allen's book about how some at the Vatican were surprised that Americans were surprised by the priest abuse scandal: "What, many Vatican officials wondered, is the revelation? Are Americans just discovering in 2002 that priests too are marred by Original Sin?"

Original sin is difficult to understand in light of the regeneration of Baptism. The effects linger though the sin is cured? And then an analogy occured. In Genesis, after the Fall, the effects of Adam's sin lingered but God did not forsake them. Adam and Eve recognized they were naked, i.e. vulnerable. Before the Fall they thought themselves to be invulnerable for they walked with God and obeyed God and we are invulnerable when we are with God. But when they sinned they immediately understood they were vulnerable to death. But when God clothed them in leather (I'm trying hard to avoid a Ricardo Montalban reference here), he made them less vulnerable to the elements. And though life was hard, the garment and toil required for food allowed them a physical life where an immediate physical death was justified. Similarly we are clothed by God in Baptism and given a chance at eternal life that would otherwise be unattainable. We are also made less vulnerable to the earthly elements of Satan and death.

I recall someone saying that if gravity were intermittent we would complain about it constantly. It weighs us down and makes movement harder. And yet no one complains about it because it's a given, a constant. (And without struggling against gravity our muscles atrophy.) Similarly original sin is for us a given. It is part of the climate like gravity.

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