Our Lady of Lourdes

Genesis 3:1-8; Psalm 31:1-2,5-7(LXX); Mark 7:31-37

The serpent was the most subtle of all the wild beasts that the Lord God had made. It asked the woman, ‘Did God really say you were not to eat from any of the trees in the garden?’ The woman answered the serpent, ‘We may eat the fruit of the trees in the garden. But of the fruit of the tree in the middle of the garden God said, “You must not eat it, nor touch it, under pain of death.” ‘ Then the serpent said to the woman, ‘No! You will not die! God knows in fact that on the day you eat it your eyes will be opened and you will be like gods, knowing good and evil.’ The woman saw that the tree was good to eat and pleasing to the eye, and that it was desirable for the knowledge that it could give. So she took some of its fruit and ate it. She gave some also to her husband who was with her, and he ate it. Then the eyes of both of them were opened and they realised that they were naked. So they sewed fig-leaves together to make themselves loin-cloths.
  The man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the Lord God among the trees of the garden.
.  .  .

If I were really clever, I would be able to link the reading from Genesis 3 with Bernadette’s vision at Lourdes. Since I am not that clever, all I am able to do is offer some reflections on original sin, and be grateful for the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

The most striking thing about the passage, as often as I read it or hear it read, is that it doesn’t seem to follow from what went before. Creation is pure gift, and not only is all of creation given to the pair in the garden, but they enjoy perfect communion with God and one another. It is like watching a film in which the main character is just about to do something really stupid. I always want to intervene, to stop the absurd and unnecessary pain that will result–and much more so here. And, of course, that raises the question, why didn’t God intervene? After all, God certainly could have done so.

Good question. But not one to which we get a clear answer. We have inherited a fallen nature, and a fallen creation, and things go wrong with us and the world around us. I suppose the connection between Our Lady of Lourdes and the fall might just be redemption: if Eve is the first person to taste sin, Mary is the first person to experience redemption.

So what does it mean to live as one redeemed by Christ? I do not claim to know, but it seems to me that a good place to start is with Mary’s response to Gabriel, ‘Let it be done unto me according to your word’.

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