In the Garden, God warns Adam [NIV Gen. 2:17]
[Y]ou must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die.
After the serpent seduces Eve, God comes into the garden and asks [NIV Gen. 3:9]:
“Where are you?”
What heartbreak there is in these words, that the stewards of its creation should hide from Love!
Why do we hide? Is it because we perceive the dependency of flesh upon sin, and so feel shame? Is it because, if we were to fully understand, we would see the burden that God meant for us to shoulder in healing the world of sin? Is it because, knowing of evil, we are infected with thoughts that, when empowered by love, grow into weeds that choke our souls?
These are the reasons that I experience.
And given that we must hide, how do we hide? What is the mechanism of our shelter? Genesis says that Adam and Eve hid “among the trees of the garden,” but that is only figurative. No, the only means to hide from love is, as God foretold, to take refuge in death.
In healing Peter’s betrayal, the resurrected Christ asks him three times “Do you love me?” [John 21:15] This is the grace of God: to redeem with mercy, to celebrate the strength that comes with the lessons learned from mistakes made in frailty.
And so, as it was Eve that submitted first to Death, it is to WOMAN that Gabriel speaks. To a virgin, betrothed to be married, the angel announces that the child of God will come through her into the world, preceding the tidings with these words [NIV Luke 1:30]:
Do not be afraid, Mary.
For what did the Law say about a conception that Joseph, her husband to be, could interpret only as a sign of infidelity?
And yet, pierced to the core with the promises made for the salvation of her people, Mary offers herself, body and soul [Luke 1:38]:
Here am I.
O woman, O grace, O life restored! Oh, magnificent surrender to Love!
You were indeed the Christmas Eve.