Then the Lord God planted a garden in Eden, in the east,
and he placed there the man whom he had formed.
Out of the ground the Lord God made various trees grow
that were delightful to look at and good for food,
with the tree of life in the middle of the garden
and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
The Lord God then took the man
and settled him in the garden of Eden,
to cultivate and care for it.
The Lord God gave man this order:
“You are free to eat from any of the trees of the garden
except the tree of knowledge of good and evil.
From that tree you shall not eat;
the moment you eat from it you are surely doomed to die.” (Gn 2:8-9,15-17)
You can have anything except… You can do anything except… You can be anything except… As soon as we hear those words, we tend to key in on the exception rather than the plethora of choices available to us. There seems to be something in our human nature that is hard-wired toward reaching for the one thing we cannot have.
We know that has existed throughout our entire human history. We are reminded of that today in the first reading for Mass. The creation story places Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. There, they had anything and everything that one could possibly want. They lived in a perfect world. The lived in harmony with the environment. They had an endless amount of food. They lived with God, seeing Him face-to-face. They could not ask for anything more.
Except for that tree of the knowledge of good and evil. That tree that God said they must not eat from. That tree that was tempting them each time they saw it.
The sad reality of our human condition is that we often opt for things that God wants us to avoid. However, if we do not avoid them, we, too, are “surely doomed to die.”
While those items might be perceived to bring us incredible and immediate happiness and joy, they cannot assure us of eternal happiness. That can only come from living with the Lord for eternity.
What things are calling to you? What things “promise” you success or joy or gratification? Are they from the Lord or are they steeped in this sinful world and cannot possibly give us what they promise?
FAITH ACTION: As you pray today, ask God to help you make as thorough an examination of conscience as possible and, if necessary, resolve to go to confession soon.