The Guilt of Our First Parents

Archbishop Jerome Lloyd OSJVPosted by

To tell the story of human guilt would be to tell the story of mankind through all the ages of creation until now; but all through that history, from the very beginning until now, man’s reactions to guilt and his attempts to escape have been consistent and have followed the pattern that they follow today.

Many people do not believe the story of Adam and Eve and the first sin, but it seems to me difficult to disbelieve a story in which human beings are so true to the psychological pattern that is recognizable in every kind of person today.

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The immediate instinct following their awareness of their guilt was to hide themselves from themselves, to put on fancy dress: and then, even when they had done this, they must hide from God.

They were afraid of the light of God because they were naked, because they could not help seeing themselves in that penetrating light as they really were, as they had become now; and therefore, the Presence of God, which until now was the source of their joy, was painful to them.

The curious thing is that they were not afraid of God because they had disobeyed Him but because they knew that something had gone wrong with their human nature as a result, and they could no longer endure self-knowledge in God’s presence. They tried to hide from themselves and from one another. They found the truth about themselves confusing enough in their own company; in the presence of God, they found it intolerable. Adam did not answer the voice of God calling to him in the cool of the day by saying, “I was afraid because I had disobeyed you,” but “I heard thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself” (Gen. 3:10).

But even so short a time ago as the dawn of that day in Eden, walking in the loveliness of the light of God, Adam and Eve had been naked, and they were not troubled by the fact: “And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed” (Gen. 2:25).

Human nature is made in God’s image; only when it has been made, in a sense, unnatural by sin, so that concupiscence has infected it with its subtle poison, does it become that of which man is ashamed before God.

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The Guilt of Our First Parents

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