Then the eyes of both of them were opened….
Poor Adam and Eve. The whole weight of evil, pain, and suffering that we find in this world is laid at their feet. If only they had listened to God we would all still be living in Eden. Instead, they trusted that wily serpent who told them that if they ate of the fruit their eyes would be opened. God had told them that they would die if they as much as touched the fruit. But they did touch the fruit and eat of it and they were still alive but their eyes were opened. What are we to make of this turn of events? Did God lie? Was the serpent telling the truth?
When giving testimony in court we are asked if we swear to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. Yes, as the serpent said, their eyes were opened, but was that the whole truth? We are taught that through this act of eye opening death was brought into the world. Are these two things connected, and if so, what do they mean?
Have you ever had an instance where once you became aware of something, who you were before falls away? Many of us experience this as we grow up and our ‘eyes are opened’ to the reality that our parents aren’t the perfect people we thought they were. Or maybe there was a time when you learned something about yourself that led to your becoming someone new. The ‘you’ that was passes away. Your eyes are opened and ‘you’ die. In the first case, when seeing our parents (and the world) in a new light, it is as if it is thrust upon us. But as we mature and grow in Christ, another way of having ‘our eyes opened’ becomes available to us.
We are called during Lent to repent (metanoia in Greek, literally ‘to look again’). We are invited by Christ to look at the world with new eyes, but consciously in the light of love. This is the gift that we are given that is not like the transgression. Jesus gives us the gift of open eyes to see with compassion. We cannot remain who we were if we look at each other with compassion. We are changed by the very act of seeing with new eyes. And as Christian disciples we are called to follow that change with acts of charity and mercy.
My prayer for this Lenten season it that I continue to open my eyes to see with compassion, and perform the works of mercy that I am called to.
May you have a thoughtful Lent!
Talib Huff works and volunteers at Christ the King Retreat Center in Citrus Heights. He may be reached at [email protected]