December 8 / First Saturday of Advent (Feast of the Immaculate Conception)
The Lord God called to the man and asked him, “Where are you?”
Then he asked, “Who told you that you were naked?”
The Lord God then asked the woman, “What is this you have done?”
~ Genesis 3:9, 11, 13
The British Parliament’s venerable custom (and increasingly unruly practice) of holding daily sessions in which MPs question the prime minister (known aptly as Prime Minister’s Questions) is not an experience for the faint of heart. Aimed more at point-scoring than truth-seeking, this half-hour session features the backbenchers practically pelting the prime minister with questions. In today’s reading, the questions also come thick and fast, but in this case they are directed from the Prime Mover of the universe to his creatures. And God’s purpose is not to showboat but to uncover the truth of the humans’ decision to withdraw from their relationship with him.
The three questions God asks Adam and Eve lay bare the threefold nature of their wrongdoing: alienation, arrogance and (for want of a better word) unaccountability. The humans have alienated themselves from God: “Where are you?” asks their divine walking companion. They have arrogantly sought truth outside the frame of divine wisdom: “Who told you that you were naked?” queries the author of all. And they have shirked accountability for their actions, Adam blaming Eve and Eve blaming the serpent. God’s questions are simple, direct and unsparing. The answers are, literally, damning, and for all eternity the human race is sentenced to seeking the way back to the paradise it lost. In the quiet of our daily prayer, we might listen for the questions God might be asking us. What truths about ourselves does he want us to face? What alienating actions might we seek to remedy? For what particular sins do we need to ask forgiveness? God longs for relationship with us; we can start by listening for his voice.
O Divine Wisdom, open my ears to your questions, and give me the strength to face the truth squarely, honestly and with true remorse.Amen.