And God asked: “Who told you that you were naked? Have you been eating from the tree I forbade you to eat?” (Gen 3:9)
The loss of innocence! What is innocence? How do we lose it?
More than faultlessness, innocence is bliss – the joy of living reality as a simple gift. No questions asked. No desires to fulfil. The joy of a child playing in the sand or a mother silently adoring her sleeping baby. It’s enjoying the answer without needing to ask the question; understanding life without seeking its explanation. The sheer freedom to be. That’s nakedness in its purest form, where everything is a gift and free.
But we can’t tolerate the immensity of this joy. We want to grab it to make sure it does not run away, like the man who wants to capture sunlight to save it for a cloudy day. It’s the forbidden tree in the Garden of Eden. We can’t tolerate a single no, even amid a sea of yeses.
So we turn gifts into conquests. We crave power to survive our blissful fragility, riches to cover up our dignifying poverty. We become exploiters rather than users. In simple terms, greed replaces need. This is original sin.
Death and the fear of death become the driving force of our existence. Our planet becomes a putrid bog camouflaged by litter and poisoned by deadly fumes and perfumes. Our bodies are reduced to dumb pleasure machines. Nature is no longer our nurturing mother but an enslaved prostitute to be exploited or discarded at will. Houses are no longer homes but showcases of luxurious loneliness. Brothers and sisters become just ‘others’ – aliens, competitors, threats, slaves or just market forces. We lose our real selves seeking our shadow in what we possess and achieve, our physical, political, technical or purchasing power.
Every person is sacred, cherished and precious simply for who he or she is – a beloved child of God
We are terrified of our nakedness. Our existence is reduced to hiding behind any kind of shell that somehow protects us from the world ‘out there’. Fear becomes the worst self-fulfilling prophecy destroying our species.
Nothing is sacred, untouchable. Nothing is unexploitable. Nothing is beyond our deceptive sense of power and control. This is all because we have forgotten our sacred origins. We have forgotten all sense of what is holy in our desperate frenzy to become Gods with a big G – almighty, all-knowing, all-powerful. We want to be the Big Answer to all our own petty and misguided questions.
Little do we realise that the God we seek to dethrone is love itself and signs His name with a small ‘g’. His throne is a bloodied cross. He is totally naked because He is shorn of all definitions. How can one define pure love, pure giving and pure meaning? This is why God is all holy and all naked, because Love gives all to and for the beloved.
How can we adore such a poor and fragile God? We escape into a frantic frenzy to construct our own heaven on earth. It’s the Tower of Babel all over again – adding storey upon storey of empty shells to house empty hearts and empty minds. It is building walls, bristling with guns of lies and arrows of prejudice, to fend off people we lock into artificial categories. It is almighty power based on sheer numbers, feeding the greedy who crave to be led by the greedy.
Amid this death-driven race to nowhere, the real God with a small ‘g’ has indeed come, armed only with nakedness, poverty and purity. He refuses to be the answer to our questions. He is the madman who dares believe that the answer lies bruised and hidden within each human heart. He is the dreamer who witnesses to a truth no evil can conquer and no human power can destroy: the fact that every person is sacred, cherished and precious simply for who he or she is – a beloved child of God.
Death is only overcome by the simple gift of a Lover who stubbornly gives his own life for the beloved. That is God. That is holiness. That is innocence.
Are you interested?
Fr Paul Chetcuti is a member of the Society of Jesus.
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