In the first reading for the Memorial of Mary Mother of the Church (from Genesis) the Lord asks two important questions that speak to the core of many of our problems. Let’s look at each question in turn.
I. “Adam, where are you?” – God’s first question has almost the quality of a plaintive cry. Because Adam is the head of his household, when God calls Adam He is also seeking Eve.
Of course, God knows where Adam and Eve are. He is really saying, “Adam, Eve: your heart has been hidden from me. What has happened? Where are you going with your life?” This is a crucial question for all of us who are so easily wayward and dull of heart: Where are you?
It is almost as if Adam and Eve had a place in God’s heart and suddenly are absent from that place. Noticing it at once, God seeks them as a shepherd looks for lost sheep.
It is interesting that He is seeking them, not pursuing them. There is nothing here to imply an angry Father, bent on punishment and venting His anger, pursuing those who have done wrong. No, this is a soulful cry.
God is not unaware of what has happened or where they are. The question is deeper: Where is your heart?
We are asked this same question: Where is our heart? On what are our desires focused? Where are we and where are we going? It is much like what Jesus asked Peter: “Do you love me?” How will we answer?
II. “Who told you that you were naked?” – We do well to understand that the nakedness here is about more than a lack of clothes (which they didn’t even need moments ago). It more fully refers to the experience of feeling exposed, vulnerable, inadequate, and unduly humiliated before God and others.
God asks us this question, too: “Who told you that you were naked?” In other words, who told you that were wretched and inadequate such that you need to hide from me? I never told you that. Clearly, Satan has bedeviled you and lied to you.
Here are some further things for many of us: “Who told you that you are ugly, that others are better than you, that you do not measure up, that others are laughing at you, that your inadequacies are all that others see? I did not tell you this. They are not the source of your dignity, I am.”
It is a terrible thing to sin, but it is even worse to then lose all hope, to despair, and to feel incapable of emerging from the nakedness of humiliation. Judas despaired of his sin in this way and refused to live with his nakedness and exposure to humiliation. In contrast, Peter waited for the Lord, lived with his sorrow, and then experienced His forgiveness at the lakeside (Jn 21:15ff).
Let the Lord ask you: “Who told you that you were naked?” What does nakedness mean in your life?
Remember, the Lord did not forsake Adam and Eve. He prepares their salvation (as we shall see) and meanwhile He clothed them: The Lord God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife and clothed them (Gen 3:21). Later, Jesus clothed us in righteousness (Rev 19:8).
Whatever your sins, never forget that God still seeks you and that he stills sees your dignity as his son or daughter. Satan wants to taunt you and make you feel naked and fearful. That is not the Father’s voice seeks you in your darkest hours and offers healing and grace. He does not deny or make light of sin, but offers grace and mercy.