Fr. Leo Pabayo .
Second of a series
THE Book of Genesis in its ancient way of teaching theology teaches that after God has created all things, He gave to man the dominion of all these. After this, “God then planted a garden in Eden, in the east, and he placed there the man he had formed. Out of the ground the Lord God made various trees grow that were delightful to look at and good for food, with the tree of life in the middle of the garden.”(Genesis 2).
God however, told them that “they shall not eat of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. They shall not eat of it or even touch it, lest they die.” (Genesis 2: 15-17). This was like a warning sign placed by God for man to avoid doing what will cause in disorder in the law of nature or the natural law. Our first parents fell for the temptation of the evil one and decided to break the law.
A Holy fear of God should have prevented our first parents into a trap set for them by the “enemy of their human nature.” But they did not heed the warning.
Their disobedience resulted in disorder in the world, beginning with in their way of thinking, of governing the world, of their relationship with one another and all things in creation. It brought about disorder above all in man’s relationship with God.
The disorder in their relationship with God resulted in their loss of the sense of a loving relationship with God as his children who have been made into the image and likeness of God. The writer of the Book of Genesis tells us one effect of this was that they felt afraid in the presence of God. “They felt naked before God”, the Book of Genesis tells us.(Gen. 3, 6-7).
This verse in the Book of Genesis could mean that they have lost their sense of being true to themselves and feeling at home in the presence of God. They had lost the childlike quality inherent in the nature of the children of God. An unhealthy fear and shame had descended upon them. They wanted hide themselves from God.
This “state of original sin” has been inherited by us from the moment that we are born into this world. We entered into this world minus the experience of the grace of God or love of God that be deliberately deprived ourselves of. This sense of shame and fear in the presence of God worsened in time. Man’s holy fear of God had been replaced by unreasonable and unholy fear.
After our sin God never let up on His love for man whom he continued to be His children but man out of shame or unreasonable hatred of God who meant only to spare them from the disorder caused by their disobedience to Him turned away from God and took refuge in that falsehood that they committed themselves to by “eating of the fruit of the knowledge good and evil. This resulted in a false image of God that they fashioned in their mind.
In instead of repenting of their disobedience to God’s word telling them not to go against of natural order of creation they continued to go against the wisdom of God and continued to fashion their own false image of God. Idolatry of various kinds resulted.
They fashioned in their minds images of a vengeful God whom they felt they was out to do them harm for having rebelled against him. They felt they had to appease this tyrannical god by all kinds “sacrifices” that they thought was demanded by him from them. In other words, they fashioned an image of God as a vengeful deity who terrorized them into submitting to his capricious and vengeful nature, etc..
They had forgotten that all the time God continued to reach out to them to bring them back home into his embrace. But they continued to hang on to their belief in a god who is out to take revenge on them for their disobedience and presumption of knowing that they knew better about what is right and wrong.
As they stubbornly held on to this “terrorizing” image of God or unhealthy fear of God, they fell for kinds of superstitious practices. Some of these that are indigenous to our culture was described by Fr. Demetrio in his encyclopedia that I already mentioned.
As sinful man was lost in the kinds of idolatry that he invented to ward off what a tyrannical deity or deities that his corrupted mind has concocted, God never gave up in trying to bring man back to a relationship of love with man. Some responded to this initiative of God. They were the prophets and holy men and women that we read about in the Bible, the most notable of which were Abraham, then later Moses and the others.
Instead of superstition these holy men and women brought about glimpses of the true image of God as a loving and forgiving Father. From these stemmed holy images of God that evoked in man feelings of trust, of being, hopeful, loving, joyful, etc..
What we call the Holy fear comes from a holy desire to avoid anything that may again alienate one from God or lose the love of God in one’s life. The holy fear of God is like the fear of someone who feels that he is not worthy to be in the presence of God. Holy fear was evident in St. Peter during the big catch of fish when he exclaimed “Depart from me Lord for I am a sinner.” It was like the fear of the fear of the publican in the Gospel who finds himself unworthy to pray in the temple and thus prays in the fringe of the temple. This kind of fear is rewarded by having a deeper sense of the love of God for them.
The holy prophets, patriarchs and others helped in gradually restoring man’s relationship with God. This paved the way, for making some holy people ready as God made the decisive act of recreating man into his image and likeness.
The time came when God Himself took on flesh and become fully human to make a new start for man to be recreated or reborn or be born again. In other words God began to rewrite the life story of man in his very own human life. It would start by being conceived in the womb of the Virgin Mary whom God has spared from the curse of original sin. He would become totally God and totally human in her womb. She would give birth to him and raise him with the help of Joseph to whom she was betrothed.
Joseph a descendant of the “Chosen people God” who had been called to begin to a new beginning in the history of mankind. Mary and with the help of Joseph would care for him in his childhood beginning from his being conceived in her virginal womb and after being born raise him up as an infant, a child and later as a man.
In the feast of the Santo Nino we recall the beginning of the life of this Christ Child who is our Lord and God destined to bring about the full redemption of man from that sin that he committed eons of years ago. Our celebration of the feast of the Sto. Nino is a continuation of the feast of the birth of this child that we celebrated during Christmas. During this Santo Nino Feast day we celebrate the beginning of his growing up of as the Christ child under the care of that the Blessed Mother and St. Joseph his foster father.
The saints who deeply contemplated the reality of very early life of this child as Mary and Joseph did. They came to also see Him as a child who is the King of kings, the Lord of all who worthy to be worshiped and adored by all the peoples of the earth.