The Way of Beauty
ORIGINAL SIN AND BANISHMENT FROM THE GARDEN OF EDEN
THEME: ORIGINAL SIN
FOCUS OF THE MEDITATION: God wills the supreme good for our lives and always acts in our favor. Our resistance to God's will is due to sin, which stems from a lack of trust in him and breaks our communication with the Lord. This meditation will help us further understand sin so we might fully trust God to bring us to our eternal home.
Sistine Chapel ceiling
"God created all things for good, including the tree of knowledge of good and evil in the Garden of Eden. The prohibition of eating from that tree was a call for humanity to trust in God's love and goodness. By denying that fruit, he was not hiding good, but saving them from poison."
"Michelangelo depicts the effects of sin in this same fresco. Holding a rod of chastisement, God (or an angel) banishes Adam and Eve from the garden into the barren wasteland. Human beings are no longer the strong, robust creatures they were before sin corrupted them. Here they are hunched over, shamed, and saddened by their fall. And since the evil one promises only lies, he departs, leaving our first parents with nothing other than the knowledge they had indeed been duped and fallen."
Now the serpent was more subtle than any other wild creature that the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree of the garden’?”
And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden; but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.’”
But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”
So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate; and she also gave some to her husband, and he ate.
Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves aprons.
And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden.
But the Lord God called to the man, and said to him, “Where are you?” And he said, “I heard the sound of thee in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself.”
He said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten of the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?”
The man said, “The woman whom thou gavest to be with me, she gave me fruit of the tree, and I ate.”
Then the Lord God said to the woman, “What is this that you have done?” The woman said, “The serpent beguiled me, and I ate.”
PRAYER AND REFLECTION
"Adam and Eve knew God's command, yet they doubted. Have you doubted God's love for you of late? Name a few faith exercises that will help you trust the Lord more fully. How might you use these exercises to develop a richer prayer life, that is, your lifeline to God?"
The comments above are taken from Meditations on Vatican Art by Fr. Mark Haydu. To truly enter into this Visio Divina, I suggest purchasing the book as each masterpiece comes with a complete description, prayer and reflection, and spiritual exercise.