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(Part 26)


February 16, 2019
Today’s reading: Genesis 3:9-24

We are called to be families on mission. Our basic mission is to evangelize, to proclaim the gospel of salvation in Jesus, to help bring people to the fullness of faith. Because the devil has dominion over the whole world (usurping the dominion of God), our work of evangelization brings us into direct conflict with him. Thus we engage in spiritual warfare.

Now our model for a family on mission is the divine family. The home of Mary and Joseph was the environment of love, support and learning that helped prepare Jesus for his divine mission. And our model for a family engaged in spiritual war, destined by God for all eternity, is that of Jesus and Mary, Son and mother. When Adam and Eve fell at the instance of the serpent, God said to the snake: “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers” (v.15a). The snake is Satan, the woman is Mary, the offspring is first of all Jesus and then also all his disciples. They would be engaged in spiritual combat until the end of time.

In this war, Jesus and Mary, and later on Christians (authentic ones, that is), are victorious. “They will strike at your head, while you strike at their heel.” (v.15b). The blow to the serpent’s head is deadly. The strike at our heels brings injury but does not bring us down. Jesus already crushed the head of the serpent by his death and resurrection. But the tail of the serpent still thrashes about, still bringing many to damnation. So, even with ultimate victory assured, we are still engaged in deadly combat.

How will God’s victory come about in our family lives?

First, each member of the family is to have an intimate relationship with God, as He intends. This was the relationship of Adam and Eve with God, as they walked, talked and communed with Him in Eden. The relationship soured when they sinned. When God was seeking them in the garden, Adam answered: “I heard you in the garden; but I was afraid, because I was naked, so I hid.” (v.10). Though we are to fear God, that is, to be in awe of Him, we must know that God is our loving Father, Jesus is our friend and the Holy Spirit is our constant companion. We are to enter more deeply into a relationship with the Triune God.

Second, married couples are to have a relationship of love, mutual respect and subordination (this is about dignity and not specific roles), and support, all in purity and holiness, according to God’s intent. If not, then sin easily enters the relationship, and causes dysfunction. What are the results of sin?

  • Loss of purity and holiness. At the start, Adam and Eve were naked but felt no shame. They enjoyed sexual relations as God intended. Now they realized they were naked and hid. “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree of which I had forbidden you to eat?” (v.11). Sin turns God’s intent upside-down. Today many people flaunt their nakedness and have no shame, but this is not because of purity and innocence as intended by God in the garden, but due to licentiousness and loss of faith.
  • Loss of peace in the home. Authentic love brings about peace, which is founded on virtues such as patience, tolerance, forgiveness and mercy. There will be disagreements in marriage, but these can all be worked out in the Lord. There will be mistakes committed, but these can be resolved. With Adam however, when confronted by God, he immediately put the blame on Eve. “The woman whom you put here with me­she gave me fruit from the tree, so I ate it.” (v.12). It is your fault, Lord, for giving her to me. Many spouses today do not take responsibility for their wrong actions, but put the blame on others, including their spouse.
  • Loss of God-given roles, intended by God to preserve unity in the home. Man is priest, protector and provider. Woman is helpmate and nurturer. Even after the fall, God reiterated to Eve what was the norm. “Yet your urge shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you.” (v.16b). Unfortunately, many husbands have not lived out their proper roles. They have not known Christ and so have not brought their families to Christ. They have at times even being the abusers of their wives. They have failed to provide and have even abandoned their families. In turn, many women reject their God-given role. They do not understand subordination, and feminists would want to do whatever men do. Women want to become like men, while men have become sissified. There is a loss of true masculinity and femininity, as roles have been discarded.
  • Loss of intended prosperity for God’s people. Adam and Eve had everything in Eden. It was a perfect existence in a perfect world. God provides for His people. To his chosen people Israel, God promised prosperity, if only they would remain faithful to Him. God created a bountiful world and there is enough for everyone. But today we have widespread poverty, and many families are in dire straits. This is one result of sin. As God told Adam, “Cursed is the ground because of you! In toil you shall eat its yield all the days of your life. Thorns and thistles it shall bear for you, and you shall eat the grass of the field.” (v.17b-18). Today man abuses and degrades the environment, causing widespread ecological mayhem.

Third, God’s victory comes about in our family lives when parents pass on the faith, in the process forming children in the home, by their example and instruction. This is done by bringing children to Christ and covering them with the mantle of protection of our Mother Mary. The intent is to prepare their children for mission. They are made aware of the spiritual war that rages, where there is enmity between Satan and Mary, and between demonic forces and Jesus together with us all (v.15a). We, the children of Mary and the disciples of Jesus, are to continue to strike at the head of the devil, as we ourselves suffer oppression, persecution and affliction (v.15b). Such Christian formation and work is to be passed on to our children and our children’s children, through the generations, until the end of time.

Adam and Eve were expelled from Eden, with God “stationing the cherubim and the fiery revolving sword east of the garden of Eden, to guard the way to the tree of life.” (v.24). But Jesus the new Adam and Mary the new Eve opens up the new Eden to us, which is heaven. We just need to faithfully struggle through this valley of tears according to God’s ways.

Families on mission thrive as they have their holy relationship with God, with spouse and with children, and as they move out into the world as holy warriors. “As for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.”

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